The picture above, copyright CBS News, was taken at the memorial service for one of the Navy SEALs killed in the shoot-down of a helicopter in Afghanistan several days ago. The dog in the picture was partnered with that SEAL, and he still has his “jump gear” on – the harness and ring that attach the dog to his SEAL master when they deploy from an aircraft.
The photo is indescribably sad on so many levels. The death of one our nation’s highly-trained fighting men; the bond that forms between a dog and his master; and on and on. Just sad.
When I first saw the photo, my first reaction was sadness – knowing, as a dog owner, how tight that bond between human and canine can be; knowing that the dog senses that his master, his partner, is no longer with us; sad that the young man in the coffin paid the ultimate price for his service to our nation.
Then, I felt some anger. Anger that our troops are being misused in these horrible wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asked to be policemen, social workers, traffic cops, farm workers, teachers, construction workers, and all manner of things for which they were not really trained. Particularly in the case of the Navy SEAL, who undergoes years of the most grueling physical and mental training you can imagine.
I see the role of the SEAL as exactly the kind of mission which ended in the killing of Usama bin Laden: a risky mission where lots of things can change quickly or go wrong or contrary to plan, demanding an almost superhuman physical effort and the ability to recognize threats instantly and react to them, where years of training pay off in the desired outcome.
I see the role of our armed forces as vastly different than the roles they’re being asked to play. They’re not cops, they’re soldiers. My vision has them being experts in wrecking stuff, blowing stuff up, in long-range and close-order combat, in assaulting a position, taking it and holding it, operating like finely-tuned parts of a huge and powerful machine.
I see them as a force to be feared and reckoned with, a force that when deployed, sends a message to evil-doers that justice is about to be served.
I do not see our armed forces as international police officers, social workers, construction workers, or anything other than as the finest fighting force on the planet.
I want the death of the SEAL in the photo above to have “counted”….to have meant something…and I pray that it did.