On October 23, 1983 the Marine Corps Battalion Landing Team (BLT) building located at the Beirut International Airport was blown up. Two hundred twenty Marines, 18 Sailors and 3 Soldiers were killed in a split second by a suicide bomber. I wasn't there at the time. I was participating in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. I was a squadron CH-46E helicopter co-pilot in Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (HMM-261) and also the squadron classified materials officer. Being the one who set up the squadron classified messages, I read about it before most others. It was an unbelievable gut punch and breathtaking in a bad way.
I did arrive in Lebanon with the rest of HMM-261 about two weeks later to relieve the aviation combat element for the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, HMM-162. My first day landing in LZ S-Bird, located directly besides the now destroyed BLT building was quite sobering. Twisted metal spikes of rebar jutted out of the concrete wreckage in no particular recognizable fashion. Bits of boot leather, t-shirts and camouflage utility shreds dangled from the several feet long ragged rebar. Indications of human occupation in the flattened mass demanded no comments about what happened and how. Silence and reverence was the only response we could muster every time we saw it, every day we landed there for the next few months.
We did all ask each other and comment with each other about this new and wildly evil enemy that knew no boundaries, no uniforms, no flags, no geographical limits and no respect whatsoever for human life. They were the new head of the food chain; the great white shark killing machine with no intentions of killing for survival. Theirs was to kill for ideology and for effect, terrifying effect.
How do you fight this enemy? How do you fight such a stealth and taunting ideology who uses all of your assets and all of your weaknesses against all of your decency and love for freedom? When was there an enemy in history like this, whose object of passionate faith was in a sick, self destructive ideology? What the hell is this thing and how do we meet and engage this enemy on the battlefields or locations on which we are trained?
It was all new to all of us and we knew it. We talked about it and then quickly changed the subject. Marines aren't used to being in a place where we couldn't seek and destroy the enemy. It was strange ground. This new threat was going to require new school books, new manuals, unknown training and above all leaders who could figure it all out. We kept busy occupying ourselves with the task at hand, international peace keeping -- whatever the hell that meant -- but the eerie new enemy never left our deeper thoughts.
Fast forward years later and that enemy became active again like a gurgling volcano. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Kobar Towers, African embassies, USS Cole all went unanswered like the '83 BLT bombing. I was off active duty, had inter-service transferred into the Navy Reserves and working a civilian job in the aerospace industry when the first WTC bombing took place. Obviously no one figured out how or still didn't have the moral courage to close with and engage the enemy even after the USS Cole was bombed several years later. Terrorism, the exact same kind from the exact group of ideologies in 1983, was slowly defeating us and we acted like a nation locked out of a motel room, standing in the rain, naked.
Then, the worst terror attack in world history took place on our shores. We all know it. We all felt that same gut punch, but this time we had a leader who had his clothes on, the room key, an umbrella and a reassuring smile on his face. Why so many hated him for that can only be explained by unbridled pettiness but there was no time to focus on destroying his life. This enemy had now engaged us in our house and we had to close with him, borders or no borders, uniforms or no uniforms, battlefields or no battlefields. George W Bush was that leader -- but how was he going to defeat these guys?
General Tommy Franks told us precisely how on Day One of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Few caught it. It was so very simple and so very brilliant and almost everyone thought it only applied to one objective; overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Remember what he said?
"We will close with and engage the enemy at a time and place of our choosing."
It was genius and anyone in the United States who thought it only meant Saddam Hussein were rope-a-doped along with the new enemy. The American rope-a-dopers whose occupation it was to destroy George W Bush, unknowingly helped severely weaken the most difficult enemy faced by any state or alliance in human history.
Now how did we win and cripple for life this new enemy? Using their ideology against them, we lured them into a location in which we could engage them using our superior capabilities on a battlefield with which we were quite familiar. This enemy is a worldwide cancer and occupies not merely Afghanistan (an extremely difficult theater to say the least) but also the entire globe. It would have been impossible to go to several nations, cross their sovereign borders, find the terrorist hideouts then close with and engage them.
Imagine the worldwide hair lighting on fire had that happened. It was bad enough when yellow cake was hidden by glasses of mint tea in Niger from one of the Bush hating torches. Barney Frank would have gone straight, found his false teeth, worn them and lit his hair on fire if we invaded several nations. We didn't. We drew them into Iraq and we killed them there. Simple and genius.
Even Barack Obama admitted it -- and as usual, was clueless when he did so. Remember his pre-election interview on Fox News with Bill O'Reilly? Bill asked him if George W Bush was right about the surge and defeating al Qaeda in Iraq. Remember what Obama said?
"Before Bush invaded, there was no al Qaeda in Iraq."
You got it Sun Tzu, er, I mean Mr. President. The strategery worked as planned, just like Tommy Franks said it would "at a time and place of OUR choosing."
The enemy's ideology drew him to attack American forces in Iraq with the intention to force an American loss. The more the mainstream media and Democrats celebrated each thousand American deaths, the more terrorists from all over the globe flocked to Iraq. Each worked with the other to further their own set of agendas and ideologies; one for political power and the other for twisted religious ideology. While doing so, we destroyed the enemy and their leaders, most going completely unreported. It was brilliant. So much so that they still haven't figured it out because they simply do not have the ability to do so. The domestic opposition did however have the ability to take credit for W's win last week, celebrating Iraqi victory over terrorism.
That is why I want to thank George W Bush and the military leaders who finally, finally after all the lost friends, lost Marines, lost three thousand plus Americans, had the courage and temerity to close with and engage this new enemy and defeat them in so many ways, crippling them to the point of near extinction. You also taught our new president how to authorize a surge like the one now taking place in Afghanistan. Leftist pettiness would never allow them to call it that, but that is exactly what it is patterned after, General Petraeus.
Thank you President Bush. I know it doesn't mean much coming from some former Marine in Missouri but I appreciate what you did and I'll never forget it.