Small Wars Journal

'An Endless War’: Why 4 U.S. Soldiers Died in a Remote African Desert

'An Endless War’: Why 4 U.S. Soldiers Died in a Remote African Desert by Rukmini Callimachi, Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Alan Blinder and Thomas Gibbons-Neff – New York Times

… The deaths set off a political storm in Washington, erupting into a bitter debate over how the families of fallen soldiers should be treated by their commander in chief. In a call with one of the families after the ambush, President Trump was accused of diminishing the loss, telling the soldier’s widow that “he knew what he signed up for.” Mr. Trump angrily disputed the claim, leading to a public feud.

But beyond the rancor, dozens of interviews with current and former officials, soldiers who survived the ambush and villagers who witnessed it point to a series of intelligence failures and strategic miscalculations that left the American soldiers far from base, in hostile territory longer than planned, with no backup or air support, on a mission they had not expected to perform.

They had set out on Oct. 3, prepared for a routine, low-risk patrol with little chance of encountering the enemy. But while they were out in the desert, American intelligence officials caught a break — the possible location of a local terrorist leader who, by some accounts, is linked to the kidnapping of an American citizen. A separate assault team was quickly assembled, ready to swoop in on the terrorist camp by helicopter. But the raid was scrapped at the last minute, and the Americans on patrol were sent in its place.

They didn’t find any militants. Instead, the militants found them…

Read on.


From our article above:


"This is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time or geography," Mr. Graham continued, adding, "We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world militarily and what we’re doing."


I really don't understand Senator Graham's thoughts here. Surely he knows that, in Africa and elsewhere, our "endless war" -- while indeed not seeming to be bounded by time or geography -- that this such war does seem to have certain, very well-understood, and exceptionally well-articulated, "boundaries." Boundaries which clearly explain (a) where we are at in the world militarily (etc.), and (b) what we are doing there.

These such "boundaries" -- which seem to define our "endless wars" -- these being that they are generally limited to states, societies and civilizations which, as yet, have not (in the mind of the U.S./the West) been sufficiently organized, ordered and oriented; this, so as to better provide for:

a. The wants, needs and desires of the U.S./the West. And, likewise, better provide for:

b. The wants, needs and desires of their local populations. (These, also, as determined by the U.S./the West.)

Herein, the local governments -- and/or the local populations -- of these outlying states, societies and civilizations; certain of these folks actively resisting our such, necessary, "transformational" activities.

Re: Africa, for example, in the Trump National Security Strategy, one might find, I suggest, a description of what we (think: our Whole of Government and the Private Sector) are attempting to do; this, so as to (a) transform these outlying states, societies and civilizations as required, to (b) eliminate/overcome their "resistance to transformation" elements, and to, thereby, (c) end these "endless" wars:


ECONOMIC: We will expand trade and commercial ties to create jobs and build wealth for Americans and Africans. We will work with reform-oriented governments to help establish conditions that can transform them into trading partners and improve their business environment. We will support economic integration among African states. We will work with nations that seek to move beyond assistance to partnerships that promote prosperity. We will offer American goods and services, both because it is profitable for us and because it serves as an alternative to China’s often extractive economic footprint on the continent.

END QUOTE (See Pages 52 and 53.)

So, in light of the information provided above:

Q: When do these seemingly "endless wars" end -- and our troops come home?

A: When:

a. The "resistance to transformation" elements (can be governments, population groups or, indeed, both) -- in the outlying states and societies of the world -- when these such "resistance to transformation" elements have been sufficiently defeated/overcome. And

b. When the outlying states and societies of the world have been adequately "transformed" (see the excerpt from the Trump NSS above); this, so as to better provide for the wants, needs and desires of (a) the U.S./the West and (b) the, various, local populations. (These latter wants, needs and desires -- of the local populations -- these also to be determined by the U.S./the West.)

It is endless war isn't it? Perhaps I'd feel better if I could wrap my head around any cohesive strategic connection with these far-flung missions contributing to a doable nat'l policy end. But, I can't and it makes me angry.