One Year Later: Retrospection
& Analyzing the Recent Dialogue

The DEVGRU Weapon of Choice: A SOPMOD M4A1
Today marks the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden's terminus at the hands of DEVGRU. The world's most wanted man was finally brought to justice in his Abottabad compound. Delivering this justice was two 5.56 NATO rounds fired from a SOPMOD M4A1 rifle courtesy of a SEAL Team 6 operator. He conveyed this accomplishment by declaring "For God and country - Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo!" These powerful words, a combination of a Latin phrase and the operational codename for their primary target, were the first uttered in a post-Bin Laden world.

In the 365 days since this successful mission was executed with surgical precision, a partisan dialogue has emerged in regards to Operation Neptune Spear. Here are two critiques of how President Barack Obama has utilized this success in the context of an election year, followed by my response:

1. Obama really didn't do anything of major operational significance, he just gave authorization for an obvious decision.

This is an argument from ignorance, plain and simple. The outcome had the potential to be the worst American military fiasco since Operation Eagle Claw during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, or more recently in comparison to 'Black Hawk Down' in 1993. The location of this high-valued target was in the borders of the sovereign nation of Pakistan and only minutes away from the Pakistan Military Academy, their equivalent to West Point. Compounding the risk was the current anti-American political climate among Pakistanis. Not withstanding the fact this would be the first time a nuclear state would have their sovereignty directly challenged in such a manner - adding the unprecedented, and albeit unlikely, potential of two nuclear powers going directly to war with each other.

A Glimpse inside the Situation Room
Furthermore, as Commander in Chief, Barack Obama is the supreme commander of the United States Armed Forces. This integral role should not be overlooked. SEAL Team 6 launching a ground operation was never set in stone. Obama was presented with three potential courses of action. The first was a joint US/Pakistani ground operation; easily the most diplomatic. Second was having the site renovated from a compound to a crater, courtesy of a B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. Third was the option of the Seal Team 6 raid. The decision to go with the latter of the three options was not the easiest choice to come to. The joint operation had numerous potentials for error: intel leaks, logistical time delays, and a lack of prior precedent for how to conduct a US/PAK operation. The sortie would have guaranteed target annihilation, but would have had catastrophic levels of collateral damage - and no bodies to account for the mission's justification. So while the third option looked the most tantalizing, it put 79 American Soldiers on the ground. This meant boots on foreign soil, in pursuit of an unconfirmed target.

Regardless of what the President may or may not be doing in regards to referencing the success of this operation, credit must be given where credit is due. Diminishing Obama's role in Bin Laden's take down is more petty, ignorant, and deleterious than what any superimposed political narrative is accusing the President of doing.

2. Obama is employing divisive and unethical rhetoric when using Bin Laden's death as a part of his 2012 campaign platform.

There are so many elements wrong with this assertion. Most prominently is the fact that the majority of these attacks are coming from the right. While there may be legitimate critiques, Republicans are being hypocritical in their claims. The outline for what the Obama 2012 campaign is doing in terms of using national security, foreign policy, and successes in a war are no different than the Bush 2004 campaign [As Slate Magazine Demonstrates].

Should President Obama be able to laud the success of killing Bin Laden as part of his campaign? Without question. Especially because of his visit to Afghanistan and Bagram Airbase yesterday. To question Obama's visit to an active war zone, to visit American troops, and on the anniversary of Bin Laden's death, simply proved the foolishness and ignorance of those accusing him of grabbing cheap political gains.

Personally, I cannot think of a stronger message to send to the world than to return to the homeland of al-Qaeda on the one year anniversary of their founder's demise at our hands, and outlining a way to responsibly draw down a decade long conflict. 

History has shown that hasty military withdrawals that are irrespective and inconsiderate of real world implications have extremely negative consequences. And before anybody scoffs at President Obama's announcement to commit US and NATO forces to Afghanistan for the next decade, remember how all of this was started in the first place. Like it or not, al-Qaeda grew from the seeds of the American-backed Afghan Mujahadeen that fought against the Soviets forces during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The gravitas of this salute to America's determination and accomplishments easily exceeds Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier to proclaim 'Mission Accomplished.' And if the question were asked "Would Mitt Romney visit American troops at Bagram Airbase, in an active war zone, on the one year anniversary of Bin Laden's demise?" The answer would be 'No.' Mitt Romney decided to just mail it in.

Personally, I took time to reflect on the events surrounding Bin Laden's death. I found that certain sentiments that haven't changed, and I ultimately came to the same conclusion. To convey my current thoughts on the matter, I will quote from an oped I wrote for the University of Oklahoma's student news paper a year ago:

"Regardless, this is a time for celebration; if not solely for the death of a fellow human being, but for putting and end to what he [Osama Bin Laden] did and stood for. Hopefully a step in the direction of closure for those affected by the events of 9/11; and ultimately making it a little easier to breath for the Human Race as a whole."

[See my original op-ed in full at the OU Daily, Here
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