Saturday, December 03, 2016

"Maddog" Mattis? Green Berets Beg to Differ

My brother Jason Amerine, who commanded a Special Forces detachment as a young captain during the early Afghanistan campaign, shared some criticisms of Marine LTG "Maddog" Mattis that he recently posted on his Facebook page. 

These comments are topical because the anniversary of the deaths by friendly fire of men under Jason's command is upon us yet again, and because "Maddog" Mattis is the choice of President Elect Trump for Secretary of Defense. 

I shared Jason's comments with my own Facebook network, preserving their limited distribution. If Jason wanted to limit distribution of his comments to our circle of Special Forces and Ranger veterans, that is his call. But I told him in a comment that I wished that he would post the comments in public, for public distribution. 

Jason messaged me, saying, "You can copy and paste the post and use it however you want." He explained his reluctance to "start another storm," then he thanked me for being there. I consider it an honor to know Jason Amerine, and it is an honor to publish his words. 

Neither I nor Jason seek to undermine our President Elect. But it would be an appropriate gesture for General Mattis to apologize for his timidity when the lives of Special Forces soldiers were at stake. 

None of us can demand perfection from our commanders in combat. We know the chaos of war, we understand how anyone can make a bad call on a bad day when everyone is just trying to do their best. 

So why share this at all? Will it be manipulated by a corrupt news media to undermine our President Elect? 

I choose to believe that we the people are smarter than that, we know very well that our mainstream news media is propagandistic and manipulative, and we are capable of filtering our news for ourselves. 

We the people will understand that on one day, in a long career, Maddog Mattis made a bad call. 

All that General Mattis needs to do to get this old Green Beret off his ass is to express regrets to the families of the fallen. Is that so much? 

Here is Jason's post: 
"Monday marks fifteen years since the friendly fire that killed JD Davis, Dan Petithory, Cody Prosser, Barigul and scores of other Afghans just north of Kandahar (I always felt fifty killed was a tragic but accurate estimate). 
It seemed fated that Mattis would be announced as SECDEF so close to the anniversary and many of my friends have been reaching out to ask me what he did or didn’t do that day.  
The delay of Mattis in launching MEDEVAC on December 5th was never in question, not even by him. The only debate was whether it was justified and how many died as a result.  
At the time of the friendly fire, my element was not in enemy contact and a surrender delegation was en route to us from the Taliban regime to end that stage of the war.  
The friendly fire that hit us was identified immediately.  
‘Fog of war’ would rightly have delayed the situational awareness of Mattis but he also had a Major and Sergeant Major from our own SOCCE (liaisons from 5th Group) begging him to fly to his face, along with radio calls from my element, JSOC and the CIA.  
His forces at Rhino, just outside Kandahar, were not in significant enemy contact and they had nothing else to do that morning: Mattis had asked days earlier to help with assaulting Kandahar and I, through Karzai, had them sit in place at Rhino so we could force the surrender without US forces causing the Afghans to change their minds.  
Mattis had an excuse to delay launching MEDEVAC while he gathered the facts but not the six hours it took for AFSOC, with the same information, to fly all the way from Pakistan in obsolete MH53s and MEDEVAC us to his landing strip at Rhino.  
Every element in Afghanistan tried to help us except the closest friendly unit, commanded by Mattis. Men were ready to drive to get us or send horses from the other side of the country if that was what it took.  
Mattis finally released his assets after AFSOC landed at Rhino, covering our first load of wounded in dust from their rotor wash as they launched. Cody died around the time we reached Rhino and I was told at least two Afghans died because of the delay but nobody knows for certain.  
None of that was assessed properly because 5th Group chose not to call for a formal investigation. 5th Group wanted to end the bad press associated with the friendly fire and the inaction by Mattis only made it worse so they buried my angry complaints and sought to shut me up about everything that happened that day.  
So I never stopped speaking out about it for the last fifteen years. Maybe Mattis was a good general later in his career by whatever standard you want but it has been bizarre to suddenly see these facts up for debate.  
He was indecisive and betrayed his duty to us, leaving my men to die during the golden hour when he could have reached us. AFSOC shamed him into action.  
Mattis was never held accountable but maybe he learned from it. After all, he relieved one of his battalion commanders two years later for being too hesitant in combat, just as he had been at Rhino (which we all found terribly ironic).  
When he was passed over for Commandant, I took that as an indicator that the Marine hierarchy recognized his flaws. Thanks to Facebook mob mentality, there has been a revisionist history of the man who left us to die but is now compared to Patton due to his juvenile quotes that demean all of us as service members.  
And that is all I have to say on the matter. In the coming days, I will instead reflect on the valor of all my men---American and Afghan---who fought an incredible campaign in southern Afghanistan.  
And I will be forever grateful to the AFSOC pilots who came to our rescue." 
LTC Jason Amerine, US Army Special Forces, retired."

Thank you, Jason. Thank you for being a great American. 

I am proud of you. 

ETA: Edited 5 December 2016.