Why are Special Operations dying in Africa?

By Robert Patrick Lewis

 

I fielded this question a lot after my first book (Love Me When I’m Gone) was published, but the death of a Navy SEAL in Somalia on May 4th has stirred that question back up.  Most Americans don’t realize that all major wars have led to Africa, and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) hasn’t been any different (although the reasons for it are).

While many Leftists and progressives today automatically think of America when they hear the word slavery, many forgot that the major European nations (Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Portugal) had been involved in slavery for quite a long time, taking turns colonizing Africa and fighting over the control of her people and resources.  Many of these African colonies were not well-defended (as it was never their intention to be combat positions), and thus became excellent targets of opportunity for the warring nations in World War I.  The European influence was so strong on the continent, in fact, that the Army taught me French before going to Africa as many parts of the continent still speak the language.

The Axis-owned colonies were a bit more robust during WWII, and their choice of the African continent as a battlefield led to many textbook-inspiring battles between German commander Erwin Rommel (known as The Desert Fox) and the inspiration for what I consider the greatest movie of all time, Casablanca.  Of all the gin joints in all the world…

So if Western nations aren’t openly colonizing Africa anymore (but those of us with open eyes and we who have spent time in Africa know that slavery is very much still alive in many parts of the continent), why are there American troops engaged in combat operations within her borders?

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In fact, there has been a 1600% increase in US troops with boots on the ground in Africa between 2005 and 2016.  I’ve been there on orders as a Green Beret, have lost several military friends there and a Navy SEAL died in Somalia this month.  And it all boils down to three things in my mind: open territory, religious zealots and poverty.

Many Americans have a hard time understanding just how different the world is outside of our borders; did you know that if you make over $32,400 as of 2016 you’re in the top 1% of income earners globally?  If those smelly ANTIFA idiots had to chant that after drinking their pre-protest iced mocha frappucino (paid for by their parents credit card, of course) they may not have so many followers.

Aside from our creature comforts, most of America and Americans are “on the grid.”  This means that if you run errands throughout the day, you’ve most likely been caught on camera numerous times by Big Brother.  You’ve probably used your credit or debit card.  And there’s is a high chance you’ve had to show someone your driver’s license or ID (yet it’s racist when needed to vote?).

This means that if Big Brother needed to find you, they could.  If you were to commit a major crime or were suspected of plotting something they could most likely find you and emplace surveillance to see what you were up to and who you were commiserating with.

But not in Africa.

The grid may exist in some of the more advanced areas on the continent, say Johannesburg, Morocco and possibly a few others; but 99.99% of that continent is completely off the grid.  And not only is it off the grid, but as one of the most corrupt regions on the planet (I wouldn’t put Washington D.C. too far behind) any local police or security that needs to be asked to “look the other way” will often do so for a very low price.

This means that if you were someone who needed to hide out, say a terrorist leader or arms dealer, you could probably find a good place to do it there.  And what if you needed to set up a terrorist training camp to teach people how to shoot, make explosives and become deadly in the fight against the infidels?  There’s quite a bit of prime-time off the grid desert property in which you could do that.

Its ease of access to the Middle East makes it a prime location for terrorists, and with the large amounts of money the Saudi’s give to setup Wahhabbi mosques (the most violent and terrorist-grooming sect of Islam) it’s a breeding ground for extremism.  Add in the two final ingredients, heat and poverty, and you have a recipe for terrorism.

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Sure, Boko Haram stealing schoolgirls made Oprah upset & Joseph Kony and his child soldiers are enough of a reason to send my former unit on a hunting mission in the jungles of the Central African Republic, but not enough to warrant a 1600% increase in US military presence.  

If you ever find yourself questioning why the US, State Department and DoD make some of the very strange-seeming decisions that they do to fund nations which call us evil and send troops to the middle of nowhere, it all boils down to one word: stability.  

Stable, rich and prosperous nations don’t allow terrorists to come into their country.  They don’t allow the populace to live “off the grid” so that anyone can hide their evil deeds there.  And they don’t bring Green Berets with our guns & beards to hunt evil within their borders.
Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

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The Combat Veteran’s Paradox

I’ve been a guest on some of the world’s top podcasts, radio and television programs. I’ve been asked to be the keynote speaker at Fortune 200 company events. I’m a national spokesman for a veteran’s charity. People line up for book signings to ask about my book and to talk about life in Special Forces. Most every person I meet thanks me for my service.

But in the eyes of the state of California, I am a menace to society and undeserving of the same rights as the person next to me in line.

This is what I refer to as the “combat veteran’s paradox,” or the current state of affairs where, on one hand, most of society dons yellow ribbons and shows their undying support for the combat veterans of the past decade, those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, who’ve suffered the tolls of war and lost too many friends in the process.

And on the other hand, the state believes those same skills and bravery that were so handy in combat zones fighting for that same state’s flag become a danger to society, causing them to strive to take away our arms, benefit of the doubt, and, yes, many times even children.

While the 22-a-day statistic is staggering and gaining much-needed attention in social media and the greater landscape of society, there is another military-related statistic that has fallen off the public radar: the military divorce rate and subsequent broken families.

It seems I find stories every day in the media, through conversations with friends or in social media of another veteran having his life torn in two by an angry spouse with full support of the state.

There was once a time when I believed every story had a logical explanation, that there must be some integral key factor that these men were leaving out to paint themselves as the victim in the story.

And then I experienced it firsthand.

I cannot explain to you how maddening it is that every friend or legal authority I tell my story to – whether it be a lawyer, police officer, or court official – responds with the same answer: “they [the court system] can’t just do that.”

In a logical world they would be correct, as I would have been in my assumptions before walking the line myself. But in today’s world, the same government whose flag we soldiers run to pick up, fight for and protect has no issues with throwing us to the wind when we need their help the most, claiming the same skills they needed when it was time for war leave us incapable of being a good father, owning weapons, or receiving the benefit of the doubt.

 

As a man who grew up in the South and spent quite a bit of time in military towns, I can attest to the masses of young girls who just “love a man in uniform.”

And when the nation is in a time of peace, it works out well for both parties.

The soldier is only gone for short-term training assignments, and may come home with some anger or resentment towards his chain of command or the system from time to time, but that is much different than the unwavering wounds of war.

But in a time of war, things are much different. It takes a truly strong woman to love a veteran – more than loving the man in uniform, more than just singing along with empowering songs or watching empowering movies, but a truly strong and amazing woman with steel in her veins.

To love a veteran is to understand that sometimes he just can’t see why your world is collapsing because they didn’t have a shirt in your color. He doesn’t understand your crying because you hurt yourself and a tiny speck of blood is momentarily on your little finger. And your power struggles at work with your arch nemesis in the next cubicle? Not on his radar of things to get worked up over.

A veteran who has walked into certain death time and time again, watched multiple friends die traumatically in their early twenties and toiled in the high desert heat while wearing a full uniform with well over a hundred pounds of gear and rucksack will have a difficult time showing empathy for your first world problems.

And in the days where everyone is a special snowflake, reality tv teaches young girls that if Kim Kardashian can be a star for nothing so can they, and filing for (and getting) a divorce is not only easier than getting married but almost just as common, these strong women quickly change the “till death do us part” portion of the marital contract to “till it gets a little tough.”

And in the eyes of the state, it’s always the veteran’s fault. While the rules state that a restraining order is a serious move (and does quite a bit of damage to one’s reputation, record and any security clearance they may have held), it is quick these days to levy one against a veteran with zero evidence, history of violence, or police record.

There are many documented cases (mine as well), where an angry spouse will perjure herself in court, contradict herself repeatedly and give no clear evidence of need, but the court will rush to file a restraining order and take the children away from a loving veteran father in favor of a proven liar because she’s angry and spiteful.

Why? Because the father is a combat veteran, and as he loves his children more than anything the state allows an angry spouse to use them as weapons against him.

And there seems to be little attempt for the court to curb this disturbing trend. Much like trial lawyers can be disbarred for frivolous lawsuits but rarely are, it seems the court system has turned a blind eye to women abusing the system (and our nation’s veterans).

The onus to write this article was not my own experience (although it was a huge mitigating factor), but several others that were so egregious I felt I had to spread them as far and wide as possible to show the gravity and scope of this epidemic.

In a veteran divorce case in Key West, Florida in 2010 attorney David L. Manz of Marathon, Florida implied that all military veterans were high risks for spousal abuse and domestic violence by virtue of their military training, which aggressively teaches them to kill and destroy.

This was not only kept on record in that case but seems to be echoed time and time again since in divorce courts around the country involving veterans, where the “innocent until proven guilty” attitude required in other court cases is thrown out of the window.

Another case in Pasadena, California involved a soldier who was deployed for a year to a combat zone. While he was deployed, his wife filed for divorce and left with their children. When he returned and petitioned for custody rights, the Pasadena Judge deemed him an unfit parent due to the year he had spent away from his kids.

It didn’t matter that it was an involuntary deployment that would have landed him in jail as a deserter if he refused; again, in the eyes of the State, the combat veteran has no rights.

In another case, a spouse filed for divorce from her disabled veteran husband because caring for him was too much of a nuisance. As a parting gift, the judge awarded her half of his disability income. You read that right – she didn’t want to help with his disability anymore, but more than gladly took the money for it.

Unfortunately, I could fill pages upon pages with examples. Last night I read another message from a fellow former Green Beret on a secret group we belong to speaking of the courts giving him the same treatment, only allowing him to see his kids in supervised visits which their mother has chosen rather frequently not to even bring the kids to.

And her punishment for contempt of court? Zero.

It’s amazing with treatment like this that anyone even wonders why we’re seeing 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

A characteristic that I’ve often written and spoken about is that while we veterans may have a gruff and solid exterior, inside each of us has more love for our families than I’ve ever seen in the civilian sector – so much that we would rush to sacrifice our lives in order to protect that which we hold so dear.

It is said that “nobody loves a warrior until the enemy is at the gate.” Our nation’s veterans have been keeping that enemy at bay for well over a decade now, but when they come home to find the only people in their lives they are supposed to trust, rely and depend on have become the enemy, how can they choose to go on?

And the fact that our nation would support the soldier by wearing a ribbon but also support a court system or angry ex-spouse that would treat our veterans like this?

That, my friends, is the combat veteran’s paradox.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war” and the host of “The Green Beret MBA” on iTunes.

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Author Robert Patrick Lewis on The Herman Cain show Veterans Day (11/11/13)

 

Tune in Veteran’s Day 2013 (11/11/13) to hear former Green Beret and author of the Special Operations book “Love Me When I’m Gone” Robert Patrick Lewis talk with former Presidential Candidate and Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain about life as a Green Beret fighting the Global War on Terror, his beloved Veteran and Soldier’s charity USA Cares, and his new fiction books to be released soon.

To find times and stations to tune in and hear the show, follow the link below to see them all:

http://tunein.com/radio/options/The-Herman-Cain-Show-p55858/

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Man in the Mirror, Race, Color and Creed

A friend of mine told me last week that as he read my blogs, he could imagine me yelling at the computer as I typed.  That’s not exactly what I’m going for, but pretty funny from a guy who knows me so well.  The things that I see in the news these days tend to get me a little heated, and it seems to come out when I write about those stories that get me worked up enough to put my feelings about them out there.

There are a few events which happened last week and are making the rounds in the news now, and there is one most of all that resonates enough with me to want to talk about…and hopefully you’re starting to learn my point of view enough to come along on this ride with me.

I’ve had an idea for quite a few years now, as I watch the world and America especially, fracture itself on purpose in the name of fairness and equality.  I’ve watched as people have tried as hard as they can to put themselves into every sub-group possible, in an attempt to find their
“identity,” but only succeeding in bringing them further and further from the rest of society, mankind, or people in general.

My idea is quite simple: As long as you define yourself by race, color, or creed, you will always be  defined by your race, color, or creed.

It sounds innocent enough, but stay with me here; at one time, we were all just people.  It was us against the world, struggling to keep the tribe alive long enough to pass on the bloodline and stay in existence, making our own footprint on this world.

People began to multiply, immigrated to different parts of the world and began their own tribes.  At one point, many of these tribes came together to form this great country that we call The United States of America.

I have Italian, Nordic and other types of blood running through my veins, but I’m not an Italian/Nordic/etc, I am an American.  My wife was born in Taiwan and raised in Texas, but she’s not a Taiwanese/American, she is an American.  As I said on “For Crying Out Loud” last week, my kids are “one part olive oil, one part soy sauce,” but they’re not Italian/Taiwanese-Americans….they are American.

But for some reason, in the last generation our society has strayed as far as they can from that point of pride, of calling yourself an American and instead putting as many hyphenations on the greatest of compliments as it takes to completely negate the “American” part of it.

When we were all just humans, we worked together as a tribe, to hunt and provide, to protect and care, to keep ourselves alive.  When we were all Americans, by the same token we all worked together to build this nation into the greatest civilization in the history of man.  We all pitched in an picked up trash if we walked past it, mowed our lawns, worked hard and brought home a paycheck, raised our kids to be fine, upstanding citizens, and the tribe was well.

What do we have now?  As people began to stray from our national identity, our society followed.  As people dropped the “American” from their only description, flags stopped appearing in so many yards, graffiti went up on every wall and overpass sign, and the trash stopped getting picked up.

As the pride in our society diminished, and it became more about “me and mine” rather than “us and ours,” education began to falter; the home structure is on the ropes, with the traditional family being a minority rather than a majority these days.  As our American brothers and sisters cared more about other details than being American, we let our society slip away.

We used to have an “ask what you can do for your country” mentality, even when dealing with our own races and/or cultures back in the day.  It wasn’t “we feel alienated because there is one fewer of mine than yours in political office,” or “not enough of a certain race represented in small business owners.”  It was the opposite; instead of, “what is America doing for me,” it was “look at what we’re doing for America.”

Proud Irish and Italian immigrants building the skyscrapers in New York.  All black/Irish/Italian units like the Red Tails or the Fighting 69, doing their part for this great country and using it as a point of pride, showing just how damned proud they were to be American; they used those points of pride to show just how much they contributed and belonged to this great society, rather than trying to fracture away from it and turn it into something it wasn’t.

So what got me onto this subject today?  Well, for one, I watched Django Unchained last week…..wow.  After announcing on “FCOL” last week that we hadn’t received the viewer from SAG, a friend sent me his copy, and all I can say is wow.  Good job Tarantino, it makes Roots look soft.

There are a few news stories that followed, interestingly enough, about a man slapping a toddler on an airplane and another man in a hospital saying only white nurses could touch his newborn.

I think that both of these events, and many other like them, are a result of people having this “you vs me” mentality, and I’m not saying that IT is a result of our fractioning and trying to create our own identities based on anything that sets us apart, but I feel that the fracturing is making it worse, more apparent, and more widespread.

People are inherently jealous of those who have what they don’t, and that can be money, special attention, fame, or anything that a certain person wants.  We used to have a society where people would say, “wow, that person has everything I want, I’m going to work hard and get it myself.”

We’ve now changed, I believe due to this fractioning and loss of American identity to a “look at what that jerk has, why do they deserve it and not me, I’m going to ruin their life and/or take it from them.”

By calling ourselves everything under the sun besides American, by flying the flag in our car/yard of the country we LEFT for America and a better life instead of the American flag, by creating our own identity rather than that of our countrymen and brethren, we have taken ourselves out of a society that works together toward a common goal to a narcissistic one who only believes that the group of people with whom they can identify should be happy and successful.

Think I’m getting a little overboard with this?  Look at the ACLU and the cases it has been fighting.  Look at the cases involving Atheists and, instead of giving them a better leg up, the fight is completely about taking the First Amendment rights away from the majority of this country, which is religious, and not allowing them to express themselves.

It is not a fight about trying to make the country, or even Atheists better, but rather destroying the livelihood and ability to express themselves away from people who are devoutly religious and attribute and success or happiness in life to their creator.  It’s not “i’m going to work hard to better myself,” but rather “I’m going to work to take what’s important away from you.”

Long story short, I feel that we are starting to fall way too far from the apple tree.  We’re all on “Team Human”, and as soon as we started going away from that, countries formed, boundaries were made and wars were waged.

Even within our own country, we have begun to move away from “Team America,” and as we’ve done that, our society has begun to shake at its foundations.  It would take much more than I can imagine to get us back to the “Team People” mentality, and as a sheepdog I do believe that there are evil people in the world who need to be forcibly removed, but maybe we can get back to the “Team America” way of living.

But how can we do that?  By just paying attention to what you’re doing, every day, all the time.  We involve so many biases and judgements in our daily life, based on things that are so engrained in society today that we do it without thinking.

Pay attention to everything going on around you; understand that Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Leftist, we are all American.  Our politicians have fallen into this trap and become so polarized that they are completely ineffective, and have further divided our nation into “red” and “blue” states.

Don’t fall into that trap; whenever you listen to the news, meet someone new, take your kids to school, or whatever you’re doing in life, remember, above everything else, you are an American, we live in the greatest society known to man, and we are letting it slip through our fingers.  Only by coming together on the common goal of keeping our society at the top of the pack can we ever succeed.

I was giving my son a bath after getting back from the gym this morning, and as my iPod was on shuffle, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson came on.  I hadn’t heard this song in some years, but it was great timing given what was already going on in my head and in the news.

If you, like me, haven’t heard that song in quite awhile, go put it on.  I’ll be here when you’re finished, but really listen.  And if you feel bashful about it, or that it challenges your masculinity in some way listening to Michael Jackson, remember that this Green Beret with shrapnel still in his body from Afghanistan has been listening to it all morning on repeat….I’m not saying i’m the toughest or most masculine guy in the world, but I’m closer to the top half than the bottom, and I love that damn song.

We’ve been spending too much time looking to inept politicians or others in charge to make the changes that we need to get back on the right track as a society, but they have more than proven themselves incapable (or unwilling) to do it for us.

If we want to make a change and get our country back on track, to be the same great nation for our kids as it was for us and our parents, it all starts with us.  It starts with me, it starts with you, it starts with all of us together.

Take a long hard look in the mirror, if you have kids, take a long hard look at them.  If you, like me, believe that we going in the wrong direction in society, don’t wait for someone else to change it, start making a change with the man in the mirror.

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