The Delta Force raid on the Syrian ISIS camp failed to rescue any hostages. They had been moved. Now we know why.
Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”
This is a reflex reaction of Obama to any call for action. He delays and thinks and worries about the politics. It has been reported that Obama delayed the bin Laden raid three times.
President Barack Obama — at the urging of senior adviser Valerie Jarrett — canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden three times before finally approving the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL mission, according to a book scheduled to be released next month.
In “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors who Decide for Him,” Richard Miniter writes that Obama canceled the mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March, The Daily Caller reports
It isn’t just the conservative press but Hillary Clinton even says so.
Through weeks of sometimes heated White House debate in 2011, Clinton was alone among the president’s topmost cabinet officers to back it. Vice President Biden, a potential political rival for Clinton in 2016, opposed it. So did then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
The optics and the political fallout were most of his concerns. In the case of Captain Phillips of the ship hijacked by Somali pirates, reports have circulated that Obama delayed the SEALS raid several times as he agonized over the decision.
The claim that the White House rejected two rescue attempts is equally false, according to Gen. Jones. Nor did the on-scene commander decide on his own to rescue Phillips. Jones said the president had already given that authorization on April 10 – two days before the rescue. Vice Adm. William Gortney, commander of Naval forces in the Middle East, told reporters the same thing in an April 12 press conference. According to Gortney, “[T]here were standing orders that if [Captain Phillips] was at risk and we on scene determined that he was under imminent danger, to go ahead and take decisive action.”
The fact that the White House and the Pentagon had to step on these stories of delay indicates the opinion of most military officers. It is widely believed that the “shoot order” was given in spite of the White House.
Now, we have the raid on the Syrian base where ISIS hostages were being held.
Time was obviously of the essence, yet if you believe Harnden’s source, it took 30 days for a green light. How come? The White House’s fears of a debacle a la Desert One or Mogadishu are understandable, but less understandable now than they were before the Bin Laden raid. Even if the Foley raid had fallen apart, what would the knock on Obama have been? That he had too much faith in the capabilities of soldiers who scalped the head of Al Qaeda and then exfiltrated without a single American casualty? The foot-dragging is also hard to explain. He took his time in ordering the Bin Laden raid, with internal deliberations extending over several months, but extra prudence was warranted in that case: Pakistan is (nominally) an ally, there were no innocent lives directly in the balance, and the White House had no reason to believe that Bin Laden would flee the scene before they got there.
This is just the Obama playbook again and it has been an old one going back to Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. Read Dereliction of Duty to see how the Johnson Administration conducted the Vietnam War as a political exercise, not a military campaign. Certainly “War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means” but the continuation must be competent. The attempted rescue of Vietnam prisoners in the Son Tay prison camp was fatally delayed
The concept of a rescue mission inside North Vietnam began on 9 May 1970. An Air Force intelligence unit concluded through analysis of aerial photography that a compound near Son Tây, suspected since late 1968 of being a prisoner of war camp, contained 55 American POWs and that at least six were in urgent need of rescue.[n 2] On 25 May the unit met in the Pentagon with BG Donald Blackburn, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA), to report their findings. Blackburn was responsible directly to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and had also been the first commander of the covert Studies and Observation Group in Vietnam.
From May 1970 to November was too long to be assured the word would not leak to Vietnamese who had many sympathizers in the US government. A friend of mine in Vietnam said the NVA knew the bombing targets before we did. At least Nixon was willing to try. Had the POWs been there, it would have succeeded, unlike Jimmy Carter’s attempt in Iran ten years later and after Democrats had gutted the US military following the Vietnam retreat. There is a good book called The Guts to Try, which describes the poor state of the US military in 1980. At least they tried.
What we see here will not be the last failure of the weakened US military with this reluctant president in charge. I doubt very much that a competent effort will be made to reverse ISIS gains in Syria and Iraq even though an outline of such a mission is available from others.
The problem will be getting a reluctant president on board. He wants nothing more than to enjoy the perks of the presidency for the next two years and ignore problems just like Clinton ignored al Qaeda until 2000. At least Clinton had less reason to be concerned as the losses seemed less obvious and the economy was doing well.