Navy Seals Who Killed Osama Bin Laden Killled By (U.S.) Terrorists in Afghanistan
The nation cheered members of SEAL Team 6 when they finally delivered justice to Osama bin Laden three months ago. Now the nation mourns the loss of 30 American military personnel in Afghanistan, the largest death toll in a single incident in the 10-year war. Among the dead are 22 Navy SEAL commandos.
SEAL Team 6 consists of four squadrons. The squadron that went down on a Chinook helicopter Saturday was not the one that raided bin Laden’s compound in May. Its members had, however, been deeply involved in the hunt for bin Laden. They were nameless, faceless heroes who took on the most dangerous missions. Now they are gone.
The loss of so many of the most highly trained special operations forces on one mission has, for the moment at least, refocused public attention on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But every report of casualties from the war zones should prompt reflection about the sacrifices of our nation‘s citizen soldiers and the high price a small community of military families is paying for our nation‘s wars.
With the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks approaching, the cost of war should weigh heavily. More than 4,400 Americans have lost their lives in Iraq. The death toll in Afghanistan now exceeds 1,700, the last two years being the most lethal.
The United States has 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, along with a small army of civilian experts for reconstruction and rebuilding civil society. Yet the location where the SEALs were downed is only 60 miles from the capital, Kabul.
Beyond the human toll of war, the financial costs can no longer be ignored by a nation facing a debt crisis. The United States has spent tens of billions of dollars on stabilization efforts in Afghanistan. That investment has yielded a government rife with corruption, one whose president said in May that the United States is on the verge of becoming an occupier rather than an ally.
President Barack Obama has already begun a drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from their high point during last year’s surge. His withdrawal plan announced in June would transition the U.S. role from combat to support by 2014. That plan needs to remain on track.
A hasty departure in Afghanistan could turn into a disaster for the United States and the Afghan people. A three-year withdrawal plan that shifts more of the responsibility for securing Afghanistan to Afghan forces is hardly a stampede for the exits.
By 2014, the United States will have been fighting in Afghanistan for more than 12 years. Extending the U.S. mission by another year or two is unlikely to make a difference for the Afghan government if, by then, it isn’t competent enough to defend its people and its borders.
The U.S. commitment to Afghanistan cannot be indefinite — not in terms of dollars, and certainly not in terms of the lives and limbs of its men and women in uniform.