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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soldiers, troops, war, meals, deployment

Leading by example/hot meals for troops

What Happened to Leading by Example?

            I really try not to complain just to complain, but I feel that this media provides me the ability to have a sounding board to address issues which, for some reason or another, I feel qualified to talk about, and/or see that the mainstream media isn’t honestly or accurately covering a subject.

I was reminded of something today that I heard whispers and rumors about not too long ago, but seemed to die in the wind very quickly.  Being that I haven’t been back to Afghanistan in about five years, but it looks like I may be back there very soon, this was an issue that for me, like many Americans, fell off the radar as it didn’t get much coverage.

The issue that has me all hot and bothered today is one that, when I really sit down and think about it, has many parallels into the bigger picture of how our country is being run, and by whom.  The issue that I’d like to remind everyone about and discuss today is the fact that troops in Afghanistan are no longer receiving hot breakfast or midnight chow.

I’m going to address why this is a much more important issue than say, you missing lunch breakfast because you were in a rush, but I’d like to remind you of a few things to put this in context.  In his time as President, Obama has now taken more vacations and played more rounds of golf that any former President to this point.

Congress and the Senate have made no cuts to their own pay or tax breaks (even while the Democratic politicians decry that large American CEO’s companies who pay millions in taxes aren’t paying their fair share, they haven’t made a single move to lean themselves).  There are rumors that the Obama Africa vacation (not official business, but another vacation) will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Way to tighten the belt while so many Americans are in financial straits and hard times Mr. President.

As much as the Left likes to decry and punish hard working industrialists and business owners, I know quite a few small business owners, and several who have turned their fledgling businesses into successful behemoths (which THEY built, not the government).  Every one of these men I know who is now extremely successful is only that because they understand delayed gratification, and were able to follow the age old saying “if you can be a lean cat in fat times, you can be a fat cat in lean times.”

This means that when times got tough, they tightened their belts.  When times were great, they didn’t loosen those belts very much.  When the business was hurting, they took pay cuts before any of their workers, spent much more than 8 or 12 hours a day working, and paid for their success in blood, sweat and tears.

The old joke that all Republicans are businessmen, and all Democrats are lawyers seems to be singing quite true these days, and the fact that our country is being run by someone who’s never run anything before or had to face fiscal responsibility is showing in the way that Obama is treating the USA as a lawyer looking for padded billable hours, rather than a businessman trying to keep the ship afloat and maximize efficiency.

So even though we have the most lavishly spending President anyone can recount, a Congress and Senate who don’t pay taxes, can legally benefit from insider trading, and billions spent yearly on duplicate services because our government is “so transparent” that it doesn’t even know what its own branches are doing, we have to cut meals for our troops because we can’t afford to pay for it.

Bullshit.  The media outlets I’ve found who have reported on this story have brushed aside the important aspects of these meals, and being that most of our blue-blood journalists and politicians no longer have military service under their belt (God forbid they actually give something back to this country), they don’t understand the severity of this issue.

The two meals which have been cut may seem like no big deal to someone who’s never been downrange, so let me explain to you why breakfast or midnight chow to a soldier in Afghanistan is MUCH different than the oatmeal or breakfast bar you eat on your way to work.

Most of us here, safely at home, stateside in the USA (or wherever you call home), have a relatively normal schedule.  Even my busiest friends in the music industry like Mike Dawson or my movie producing friend Mike (man I know too many Mike’s) have at least a general time where they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, hit the gym, talk to the family, etc.

When you’re downrange in a combat zone, all of that goes out the window for combat operators.  The support and logistics soldiers have a little bit of normalcy and routine, but when your job is hunting bad guys, time is non-existent.

In Special Forces, we had a routine called “reverse cycle,” which plays a number of tricks on your mind and body, and was probably the toughest part of a deployment.  You see, we are called “The Green Eyed Devils” because we typically do our hits (missions) in the dead of night, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda got to know us by our beards and “Green Eyes,” illuminated by our night vision goggles.

But after you put enough of a dent in a terrorist network by pulling bad guys out of beds in the middle of the night long enough, they, like all of nature adapt.  To keep on top of them and never let them know what we were doing, we would go on “reverse cycle” as often as possible, switching from all night-time hits one week to all broad daylight the next.  They all have to lie down sometime, and our goal was to get them while they were dreaming of their 72 virgins, goats, or wherever they spent their trips to la-la land.  Doing this is highly effective, but means bed time will be 10pm one week, and 10am the next, hence the name “reverse cycle.”  When your sleep schedule is reversed that drastically, imagine what happens to your eating schedule.

So now put that in context of the midnight meal that was typical on big bases which housed many Special Operations units who do these types of missions.  When you’re in the middle of a heavy combat deployment, you really do not know which day might be your last, and you have to treat every single moment like that is the day.  As such, every single meal that you eat could very well be your last; the last time you enjoy that creamy, chocolaty bite of ice cream, the salty, juicy and bloody bite of steak, or more importantly, the last time you break bread with your Brothers.

You see, this isn’t just some trivial treat, as the media and non-Veteran politicians would think and like you to believe.  For many soldiers downrange, there is no such thing as 9-5.  Special Forces, Infantry, Intel specialists, computer techs, gas pumpers….a base downrange is running 24 hours a day, which means there is a large group of people working around the clock.

When a non-Veteran politician or journalist looks at something like midnight chow, they think it must be some lavish luxury for fatties to stuff their faces with pizza and cookies if they can’t sleep.  When a combat veteran looks at something like midnight chow, we remember just how good that omelet tasted, sitting around with your Brothers, trying to crack jokes, make light and forget that in an hour you’ll be on a helicopter, headed out to a dangerous mission which one or all of you may never come home from.

I still remember the first meal after the day I was blown up and shot; too high on morphine and fentanyl to have any appetite, still couldn’t feel the fingers on my left hand, any of my arm except the screaming pain every time I moved it, I just sat around the table with my Brothers, thanking God with every breath that I was still alive.

It wasn’t until they started poking fun at me for not eating (it’s a very well known fact amongst my friends just how much I love to eat) that I decided to go back and get a plate of food, which I devoured once my brain turned on from the constant buzz I was hearing and realized just how hungry I was.  If it hadn’t been for that meal I may have never popped back out of the numbness that comes from the shock of being injured in combat, so yeah, I take meals in a combat zone pretty seriously.

There was a day when we used to cherish terms like “lead from the front” or “the buck stops here.”  We are in an era where people see fit to elect politicians based on whose going to give them the most benefits for doing the least, rather than those who have proven themselves to be capable leaders and have stood up and defended this country by donning a uniform when it was time, and we are reaping what we sow.

Remember that politics and public relations are all a game and a play on words; when you have a politician or journalist with zero military experience trying to tell you what’s best for a soldier, don’t waste your time listening; find a veteran or an active soldier and ask them, the only people who seem to have the true picture and idea of life in a warzone.

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Author Robert Patrick Lewis on the Dr. Drew Podcast 3/8/13

Download the Dr. Drew podcast on iTunes or the Adam Carolla app to hear “Love Me When I’m Gone” author Robert Patrick Lewis talk about PTSD in troops.  This episode was recorded at Carolla 1 studios on February 22nd, but will air March 8, 2013.

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California exodus, welcome back to Texas

Those of you who know me and/or have read my memoir, “Love Me When I’m Gone,” know my story, how I ended up here in Los Angeles, and how unhappy this place makes me.  For those of you who don’t, here’s a quick refresher:

I was born in Florida, lived there for a few years until Air Florida went under and my dad got a job flying for Southwest Airlines.  I spent the next 20+ years of my life in the state that God blessed, Texas, and only left when it was required for my service in the Army (I left for Infantry Basic Training at Ft. Benning, GA, a month after I graduated from Texas State University).

When it was time to leave the Army I was living in Colorado with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), with nothing really holding me there except the Army and my brothers, but Cindy had an entire acting career flourishing here in Los Angeles.  I moved here with some hesitation, but with most of the opportunities for us being here, it was the smart move….so I thought.

At this point in my life I’ve lived in Texas, France, Germany, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and California, and have spent significant time in Italy, Austria, Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’d say I have a pretty well-rounded view of the world at large, and have recently found that although I consider the United States of America the greatest nation our civilization has every known, I believe that California is determined to make itself the worst, veritably unlivable for any decent, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, and only welcoming criminals, welfare cases and politicians, catering to their every need and alienating the productive.

At first we had to live here because of my wife’s profession; you don’t have to know much about movies to know what Hollywood is.  But, the true fact of the matter is that the only real accomplishment that the inept California politicians can really put to their name is that they successfully ran Hollywood out of Hollywood.

You see, even though movie stars are the most liberal and avid supporters of President Obama and his ever-increasing taxes, when it comes time for them to put their money where their mouth is, they run immediately for the state that is giving them the highest tax breaks; because California actually practices the ultra-leftist policies which they publicly support, it cannot afford to give any of the tax breaks that other states and nations can.

Because of my wife’s profession we have a large number of very good friends who are movie and TV producers, stunt men, actors, writers, etc.  The majority of them have second homes or condos in places like Toronto, New Orleans or Puerto Rico now because they are only in Los Angeles for casting…once it’s time to film (and hire crew and pay taxes), they are off before the first check is drafted.

As a true conservative, this has infuriated me to no end; I heard a saying once that “Democrats are lawyers, Republicans are Businessmen.”  I never put much faith in that saying until I moved here, and found that California politicians make the absolute wrong business decision at every single chance, and now I whole heartedly believe it.

This has led to a domino-effect in the State, and it’s getting worse and worse.  As the movies began to leave and take hundreds of millions of dollars a year away from the state (not just the cost of the movie, but the hotels the actors and crew stay in, meals they eat, gas they pump, booze they drink, etc), the state started to feel the squeeze.  As I’ve learned, large, poorly-run organizations like California can’t stand the squeeze for very long, and have to find someone else to pass it along to.

So California decided to put the squeeze on every person who actually earned a paycheck…..which was already less than 50% of the state.  California has more unemployed/welfare recipients than workers, and so instead of changing this dynamic, they chose to just squeeze the workers and corporations which hire them.

As a knock-on effect, many corporations, smart enough to be truly forward-thinking and know what the outcome of this would be, left the state.  Smart states like Texas, rated the best state in the nation for business for several years running, have been actively courting these businesses, successfully landing most of them.

Governor Jerry Brown, an ultra-liberal, proven inept democrat who is helping to sink the California ship, was quoted last week as saying to Governor Rick Perry that “people will always go where things happened in the past” about their state woo-ing California businesses.  Is it no surprise that he doesn’t understand that there’s a difference between where things USED to happen and where they ARE happening today?

But, we stayed.  As the squeeze of taxes forced more businesses and people forming the tax base out of the state, the social services started to decline.  As the place with some of the highest taxes in the nation, we have arguably the worse police and fire departments that are constantly being de-funded and outsourced (a drunk driver ran into Adam Carolla’s house a few weeks ago and the LAPD wouldn’t even send a cruiser out….to a man who pays a huge amount of taxes every year and employs quite a few people, no service whatsoever).

The public school system has become virtually unusable, only acceptable to people who’s children don’t speak English, who are happy because it’s better than the 3rd world nation they immigrated from, and decide daily that rather than strive for excellence, the school system should be dumbed down and forced to accommodate their kids who aren’t used to education and who’s parents offer no assistance.

A bill was proposed in California last year that would have made it easier for immigrants here on student visas who graduated from California Universities to be granted easier access to visa’s and green cards if they received high-science degrees like medicine, engineering, physics, etc.  It was struck down by the ultra-leftists who said it would be too much of an advantage over others who would come here exclusively for welfare and free benefits.  Seriously, the wrong choice at every turn.

In spite of all this, in spite of crime and unemployment spiking, the home prices staying at a median prices around $500,000 even though unemployment is above 20% and median income is below $50,000, we stayed.  But the California Leftist politicians have outdone themselves, and if they pass the most recent bill proposed, this camels back is about to break.

California has proposed some the most draconian, leftist, un-American gun legislation that our nation has ever seen.  It seems as if they completely forgot that The Second Amendment grants American citizens the right to bear arms, even though it is clearly stated that right “shall not be infringed.”

I don’t have time to explain it without getting extremely angry and possibly turning into the Hulk; don’t take my word for how far off the beaten path these lunatics have gone, read it here:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/California-lawmakers-propose-tough-gun-laws-4261890.php

Sorry California, but that’s the final straw.  Governor Rick Perry, if this legislation passes, you’ve got another family of Texans coming back home to the promised land.  I am a man of quotes, and one of my favorites is that “anyone who forgets history is doomed to repeat it.”

If you look into the not-so-distant history, look into the timeline of what has happened every single time a populace has been disarmed.  Shortly after Turkey disarmed its citizens, the Armenians were massacred in an act of genocide.  The same happened in China, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Africa, and every known instance of a populace being disarmed.  The left can call me crazy and say i’m overreacting, but all I’m doing is pointing to history.  As a fan of statistical analysis, I love the idea that on a long enough timeline, you can find the trends in anything…….

This is the final straw California, and I know my family won’t be alone.  I know that you won’t be going through South Central Los Angeles, Oakland or Fresno taking guns away from the gang bangers and criminals.  You’ll come to take them from the law-abiding citizens who you don’t think will put up a fight, while at the same time you leave the criminals armed and reduce your Police force to the point where we can’t expect any assistance, even at a lengthy response time (it took 5 days after our house was robbed to get a detective out here).

You will soon reap what you sow, and the hole you are digging is getting extremely deep.  If you pass this law, it will be the sign that there is no saving you, and with an ROI (return on investment) so low for what we pay in the highest tax rates in the nation, you’ve been pushing it for a long time.

Even Joe Biden has been caught on camera admitting that these gun laws WILL NOT prevent another Sandy Hook, WILL NOT reduce violent crimes, and WILL NOT reduce gun-associated homicides or violent crimes.  If you are trying to get the citizens who pay your tax base and keep this state running to leave, there are much easier ways to do it.

Don’t believe me, listen to good old Joe here:

http://youtu.be/TTyoppK_aDM

The ball’s in your court; since the entire political class and most of the lunatics in this state are Dems and Leftists, I’m pretty sure I know what will happen if it comes up for a vote.  Thankfully I have a great friend in Austin who has a house ready for my family and I to move in.  Your move California.

 

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