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20 years ago, American warriors were fighting for their lives, cut off and low on ammunition, food, and water.  Some were already dead; others would die from their wounds before a relief column could get to them.  18 Americans would die in the dust of Mogadishu on October 3 and 4, 1993.  The bodies of heroes Randall Shughart and Gary Gordon were drug through the streets as trophies, and western press obligingly flashed images of the macabre parade for all to see.

In honoring these men, we need to reflect on what we should learn from their sacrifice.  Mogadishu should have been a wake-up call.  Our opponents are not civilized nations, such as Germany or the U.S.S.R.  We are facing, for the most part, a poorly trained, but highly motivated, mob of barbarians.  They will give us no quarter, yet will use our own willingness to offer it as a tool against us.  They will not restrict their war to defeating us on a battlefield.  Rather, they will strike anywhere we seem to be weak, including overtly targeting our children.  What mercy we show them we cannot expect to have reciprocated, and we do so at our own peril.

We should also learn that there are limits to what our military can do, and that when we give them a mission, we should give them all that they need to accomplish it.  Our military is not a social services organization, and should not be used to rebuild failed nations.  At best, the military can be used to provide security for those organizations that are better suited for those tasks.

But they can only do these things when properly equipped and supported.  Had the requests for American armor been honored, then our casualties in Mogadishu would probably have been much smaller.  The blood of those who were killed and wounded because what they needed was sitting in a motor pool in Kuwait or Georgia stains the hands of bureaucrats and politicians in Washington.

The men who fought at Mogadishu were not there as conquerors.  They were there to try to help those who could not help themselves.  Whether or not it was our business to do so can be discussed later.  These men need to be remembered and honored for what they did, not why they were told to do it.  It falls to us to only put them in harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and to give them everything they need in order to accomplish their mission and return home, no matter what politics or tender feelings we hurt doing so.

We owe the dead their honor, and we owe the living everything we can give.  Nothing less is sufficient.


  1. The ‘reason’ Aspin and Clinton didn’t allow armor was that it was too ‘provactive’… Sigh…


    • Yep. We would have hurt people’s feelings if we’d parked a carrier off the coast or put a platoon of M-1’s on the ground.


  2. Geodkyt

     /  October 4, 2013

    Funny, we didn;t have those problems when we HAD armor in-theater. ISTR the Marines got fired on in laager ONCE, and the tanks on the perimeter blew off a basic load in response — and crickets.

    Hell, two platoons worth of M113s (one carrying a platoon of dismounts) UNDER US CONTROL could have kept US casualties to one or two guys (counting the kid that fell off the rope).


    • Nod. One lesson we need to keep is to always provide for ourselves and to only trust allies that are as good as we are. Hoping the Pakistanis would be there for us was a recipe for caskets.


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