Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
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The last time the United States and its allies confronted Iraq, Navy SEALs and other Special Operations forces were largely left out of the main attack.
This time, after a decade of reinventing themselves and receiving generally good reviews in Afghanistan, the SEALs and their Army and Air Force counterparts hope to play a more vital part.
"We didn't have a major role," in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, said Capt. Walter Pullar, a SEAL and commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Three operating in the region. "We weren't part of the strategic picture. We were part of the tactical picture -- a small one. We've looked for the reason why we didn't get deployed as much as we thought we should. You learn and adjust."
Among other things, the SEALs have tried to forge a better command system that would integrate with top generals running any new war. While Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf favored conventional Army power 12 years ago, the current leadership of the U.S. Central Command, under Army Gen. Tommy Franks, saw what commandos, including SEALs, could do when they helped in the fight against Taliban and al-Qaida guerrillas in Afghanistan.
SEALs were involved in the biggest U.S. ground battle of the Afghan war, Operation Anaconda, during which U.S. forces pursued Taliban and al-Qaida remnants in the Shahikot Valley last March. Attempts to rescue a SEAL team that came under attack during the operation led to a gun battle in which seven U.S. soldiers were killed.
"Coming out of Afghanistan, whatever the next conflict is, people will remember that SEALs and Special Forces played an important role," said Pullar. "All these things have changed. Who knows what we'll do or when we'll do it? But we've learned from all that, and whatever comes, it will not be the kinds of things we did in Desert Storm."
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