The trade off

| December 10, 2012

Yesterday I wrote that a doctor was rescued by special operations troops. At the time we didn’t know that it was SEALs or that one of those SEALs lost his life in the endeavor. Associated Press reports about Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colo. and his organization, Morning Star;

Morning Star, a relief group that helps rebuild communities in Afghanistan, said in a statement that Joseph was uninjured and would probably return home in a few days. The group also said two of his co-workers were freed by their captors about 11 hours before the rescue, after hours of negotiations were conducted over three days.

Morning Star said the three workers were abducted by a group of armed men while returning from a visit to one of the organization’s rural medical clinics in eastern Kabul province. The group said the three workers were taken into mountains about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the Pakistan border.

The relief group said it would not reveal the identity of the other two men because they live and work in the region. The group said it did not pay ransom to obtain their release.

Not to sound heartless, but I’m pretty sure that the loss of this special operator is a bigger loss than if we had lost the doctor instead. The use of special forces operators to rescue civilians is not the reason they’re in that country. If Americans are more accepting of the death of soldiers than civilians who were fully aware of working in the areas where they volunteer to work, then we have a big disconnect between those two worlds.

“He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free,” Obama said in a statement.

In a separate statement Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld.”

Yes, it is selfless service, and the ideals, but it’s just not acceptable that we equate the life of a warrior worth the life of someone who ignores warnings ill-equipped for the dangers he’s about to face.

While I admire this unnamed SEAL for his selfless sacrifice, I also impress upon our military leaders that it’s incumbent on them to measure carefully the circumstances into which they send our armed forces.

Category: Military issues

Comments (32)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. NHSparky says:

    Last I checked, there’s fewer than 10,000 operators in the US military. There’s just under 1,000,000 doctors in the US.

    I think you know where I stand.

  2. CBSenior says:

    We understand that when you tap dance on a land mine bad things happen, but time after time people have to risk their lives saving idiots. BS their in country brief should include you will not be rescuded by the military if you are taken, especially if you are where you do not belong.

  3. pete says:

    don’t the operators have enough on their plates without having
    to worry about shit like this?
    task the FBI Hrt people for this kinda crap instead!

  4. Rerun0369 says:

    I have to disagree with this. Protecting Americans and our interests is why we exist. We all fully understand the dangers and risks associated with the job we do, and at that level it is inherently understood that your life can be given for those unable to defend themselves. It is part of what we do, and the risk we take.

  5. Jumpmaster! says:

    The Morning Star organization needs to provide their own security staff. An American serviceman is dead because of their lack of caution.

  6. Mike Morgan says:

    I love how you all blame the victims here. The doctor was kidnapped by evil men that the SEALs were probably after anyway. The doctor did not, from what I’ve read, do anything other than help people.

    Should we command all Americans to hide in America because the mean people are out there and they might hurt us?

    Or should we strive to be everyone’s “best friend” and “worst enemy”?

  7. Setnaffa says:

    We ought to be like the doctor to our friends. Help them any way we can.

    BUT. If they hurt us, we ought to annihilate them in such a way that even gives Iran’s President a reason to rethink his anti-US rhetoric.

    Japan survived two nukes. Afghans are probably just as tough. And our weapons are more accurate so a little conventional “Philadelphia Urban Renewal” might wake ’em up and get ’em flying straight.

  8. pete says:

    bottom line is,,another soldier dies because another civi.
    is in the wrong place! as Jumpmaster said,,where was their security? thats what PMC’S are friggin for!

  9. Mr. The Wolf says:

    CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin reports the member of SEAL Team 6 killed in the rescue mission has been identified as 28-year-old Petty Officer First Class Nicolas Checque of Monroeville, Pa.

  10. BohicaTwentyTwo says:

    And the deaths of CPT Miller and a squad of Rangers for one measly Private in the 101st was also a bigger loss as well. Granted that’s a fictional story, but I don’t think its healthy to have our lifesavers get into the business of weighing the life of those they are duty bound to save. When firemen rush into burning buildings, they aren’t in the habit of first considering who exactly is living there.

  11. DaveO says:

    I understand the upset, but the SEAL died saving a good guy, who was there to do good things. It wasn’t Bite-me, or a stolen valor assclown. Doesn’t the criticism undermine the SEAL’s sacrifice?

    I’ve been around USAID, Doctors without Border, UN acronyms and so on – called them the body of the week – but properly employed they do play an important part in our American version of warfare.

  12. Quincy P says:

    “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” includes those that would kidnap amcits imo

  13. Claymore says:

    Morning Star appears to be affiliated with a group of outreach ministries trying to make a difference in A’stan. I appreciate their dedication…to a point.

  14. SJ says:

    This is a tough one. Could argue both sides. Always ticks me off when boaters go out in really bad conditions and Coasties have to go in harms way for the stupidity. But, the Coasties have been doing it since their founding and they know they’ll have to when they enlist.

  15. FatCircles0311 says:

    This type of thing is becoming more of an issue. Going into dangerous situations without any viable means to protect yourself then white knight bureaucrats get involved order others who cannot deny an order to rescue people that should know better. It’s the same type of nonsense that is happening more frequently in our own country where people knowingly participate in dangerous behavior without the proper skills or equipment then rely on emergency personnel to risk their lives to save them. Yes the cause is noble but there comes a point when not only are you enabling future risky behavior but also enabling the enemy because they know you’ll respond in some manner.

    Going into an active war zone as a civilian without protection is akin to running into a burning house down the street to get a better view. I don’t know where these people are incredibly oblivious or what.

  16. NHSparky says:

    @6 Mike–not really “blaming the victim” per se, but one can/should know what they’re signing up for and be aware of the risks at hand.

    Kinda like being a rich guy waltzing through the hood at night. Sure, the cops might come by to save your ass if you’re lucky, and then turn right around and call you a dumbshit in the same breath.

    If you’re not willing to accept the consequences, you shouldn’t be taking the risks. I agree with the other commenters who state that private security would have been appropriate in this case. US forces are simply spread too thin.

  17. CBSenior says:

    @6 Stop it with that Best Friend and Worst Enemy nonsense. If we were Best Friends we would not have sold out the Polish over and over again. If we were to be worst enemies then Iraq and Af would be one giant smoldering ash bin. We did not blame the victim, we were pointing out that CIVs in the line of fire have an obligation to this country to account for themselves so Good Men do not go on Bad Missions for their failures.

  18. Quincy P says:

    dogging doctors and such for going in unarmed is like dogging reporters. or the peace corp. they don’t go in on a war-footing. they go to offer help or some sort of service. would i go into that situation under those circumstances ? hell no. i’m a concealed carry guy. i would recommend against it.

    it’s really unfortunate that there are d bags that would attack non combatants. it’s really unfortunate that our service people die because of it. i don’t blame the doctor tho.

  19. Just Plain Jason says:

    I think a lot of us forget in cases like this we are sheepdogs and the SEAL in this case was a sheepdog. The doctor may not have been in the best place, but he was doing what was right. He was in a place that needed a doctor and he was following a calling that was greater than himself. Now unfortunately, the assholes who are determined to make the country a shithole kidnapped him. Now we have to ask ourselves one good man for another good man is that worth it? The sheepdog has a duty to sacrifice his life for the sheep.

  20. Common Sense says:

    I agree that the organization should have hired their own security. But the doctor, and others like them, are really providing a service to the destitute, winning hearts and minds and all that.

    What really gets my goat is Obama practically bragging about it, releasing the name of the unit that did the mission and the SEAL who was killed. The initial report was enough – combined US and Afghani forces rescued a doctor.

    I swear, until Obama, I don’t remember EVER hearing details about missions until a book came out years later. Navy SEALs were the stuff of movies, not news reports, especially news reports only hours after the end of the mission.

    The loss of Petty Officer First Class Nicolas Checque is tragic and heartbreaking. My thoughts are with his family and his fellow SEALs.

  21. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    I raised my children by a very simple concept. “Choices and Consequences”! When the time comes that you have to make a choice, do what you think is right. If it works out, GREAT! If your choices turns to sh1t, live with it. If their choices turned to sh1t THEY had to deal with it, obviously if it were serious enough i was there for them but others wise… The life of a Dr. who made a bad choice over the life of an Operator who had no choice? Sorry Doc, you just rolled craps.

  22. pete says:

    how can the damn doctor become a victim when a young man died saving his inept ass?? the doctor is only a victim of his own stupid choices. STFU

  23. KWDriver says:

    I’m pretty sure organizations like Team 6 exist EXACTLY for these situations. Normally I agree with the stuff I read here but making it a trade off between civies and “warriors” is stupid. Same sorta crap Panetta said when “we don’t send soldiers into harms way without all the information” (not a direct quote in the Libya fiasco). Well who DO you send?! Bottom line, SEALS did what they were designed to do. Maybe you should be more angry when organizations like that are used to do stuff they were NOT meant to do, like half the crap we have them doing in a-Stan and other places. People need to look back at what JSOC was designed to do in the first place.

  24. Big Denny says:

    A sailor died while fighting alongside his team members to rescue an American hostage. They succeeded. It matters little how the Doctor arrived in the predicament he did–he was the mission. I, for one, will remember this young petty officer as a man who gave his life protecting his country.

    Rest in peace, sailor. Your duty’s done.

  25. Richard says:

    The SEALs will take care of their own but there is a doctor who owes a debt. Petty Officer Checque’s family should never have another medical bill and his kids should not have to worry about the price of a college eduction.

  26. Susan says:

    I have seriously mixed feelings about this. Whether I send men to get him is highly dependent on why he wasn’t working with our forces to complete his mission and avoid this kind of crap. If the NGO is one of those we can’t be associate with the military because we are humanitarians and the military isn’t, then don’t expect the military to save your butt. However, if the Morning Star people are trying to win hearts and minds and would have welcomed accompanying the troops if they were in the area, I might feel differently.

    Regardless, God speed to the fallen SEAL

  27. argggggggggggggggg!!! fuck it. Why do these retards think they can go off and help folks in some fucked up place like that…and not get kidnapped….then put somebody else in harms way to rescue their dumb ass???

  28. Scubasteve says:

    Who’s to say the Doctor didn’t help, and reached someone in a way that will make a difference in the future? He was putting a non-military face on the American presence. He could have just stayed home, made his money and those people could have died never knowing there is hope for a better future. Sh*tty situation, but I think he was a civilian trying to do something good where most civilians would rather pay lip service and make hollow statements. He was doing a job that, IMO, was as important as the job of the SEALs who were sent in to rescue him.

    Also, I don’t know all the details, but who gave the order to go in and rescue him? The SEALs were doing what they do best. But the Team didn’t just up and decide on their own to go pick up the doc. Personally, it goes higher than him or the SEAL Team and it’s not our place to say who owes what to whom.

  29. MickeyGSM says:

    I have a question? When are they going to get US Army Specialist Bowe Bergdahl who was captured by Taliban forces in
    southeastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, who is still a POW…

  30. KWDriver says:

    I suspect we will get him when we know where he is. Just a hunch.

  31. Scubasteve says:

    Mickey, Apparently they’ve tried. RUMINT has it that he was either moved just minutes before the operation or was there and got dragged out the back door when they went in the front door. Figuratively speaking.