DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
8 October 1996

LEST WE FORGET MOGADISHU

Hackworth reporting for duty. Phase I of the book tour was like being on a hot Landing Zone, except no one was firing real bullets. Phase II kicks off next week to places like Austin, San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale. But I've had a few days of R&R -- and reflection.

Three years ago this week, Casey Joyce was killed in an action in Somalia. Seventeen other fine warriors also died on 3 October 1993, and almost 100 more were shot up.

Casey's death was a personal tragedy. His father Larry and I soldiered together. The Joyces were like family to me. When I got the word Casey was gunned down, I felt as though my own son had died.

Casey was killed because he didn't have body armor covering his back. Some jerk up the chain of command wanted to lighten his load. Instead, he ended the boy's life.

Casey and his mates died in vain on a dumb mission. That's why I wrote Hazardous Duty. I wanted the American people to learn the truth and to know what kind of damn fools we have in the White House, the Pentagon and among our military's senior ranks.

Carelessness, incompetence and poor judgment caused Casey's death. Bill Clinton, his inept National Security dorks and his gutless generals -- from Colin Powell and Joe Hoar to Thomas Montgomery and William Garrison -- failed to protect our fine warriors.

Now three years later, no one has been held accountable or responsible. Most of the main players like Colin Powell are retired, sitting on boards pulling in big dough, and Bill Clinton is about to be re-elected.

No one except the loved ones of the dead and the disabled remember what happened in Mogadishu.

The Ranger Task Force after-report has been classified Top Secret and is sealed, locked away because Clinton, assisted by his go-along-to-get-along generals, doesn't want the truth to get out, especially right before the November elections. The story of our warriors, who fought in one of the most valiant infantry actions of this century, will never be told. The facts have been hidden.

Because the whole stinking action was covered up, our fighters are doomed yet again to repeat the same mistakes somewhere down the track. Mogadishu was an exact replay of Vietnam, but in a smaller way -- 18 body bags versus 58,000. But the mistakes were the same: arrogance on the part of senior leaders; failure to know the enemy; over reliance on firepower and technology; inept intelligence and bad planning; and wrongheaded, cowboy-like leadership. At least if an honest examination of the fight had been made and the causes of the errors that killed good men identified, lessons could have been learned.

For 51 years now, I've watched the death wheel spin, and still the top brass from the White House to the generals in the field never get it right. And it's always grunts that pay the price -- fine young men like Casey Joyce.

Look at the recent terrorist bombing at a U.S. Air Base in Saudi Arabia. Nineteen American dead. Recent findings revealed that the causes for this disaster came from sloppy generals, from the Chairman of the Joint Chief to the base CG who ignored specific warnings that the apartment complex could be easily attacked; slack, badly briefed sentries; an unwieldy command structure; and poor intelligence.

Remember the Beirut Marine barracks bombing in 1983 that killed 241 of our warriors? The exact same factors that killed our airmen in the desert are what killed our leathernecks in Lebanon a decade earlier.

Bad leadership has killed too many warriors. But the problem is easy to fix. Run a bulldozer through the offices of the President's security advisors and the plush foxholes of all the Perfumed Princes.

Bury the lot of them in trenches as the 1st Division did the Iraqis during the Gulf War, and replace them with the extraordinary warriors that make up the ranks -- men that haven't forgotten the basics of troop leadership.

That's close to what General George Marshall did in 1942 when the USA was down for the count -- and it worked.