Two stories in the New York Times, one by Mark Landler and Mark Mazzetti, the other by Elisabeth Bumiller, will increase the respect the vast majority of Americans already feel for the military, and perhaps the shape of the defense budget debate that looms. Key to Bumiller’s account is the opening line that notes 79 warriors participated in the assault, though it was the two dozen SEALs who stormed the compound. When the entire story of the daring and 100% successful mission is told, there will be lots of other parts of the military which will get a great amount of credit, and the SEALs I know are always quick to make sure their stories include those details.
A military with this sort of capability is the greatest shield we possess, especially when it has been used as a very sharp sword. The budget debate ahead will want to pretend there are easy cuts to make at the Pentagon, but of course any system that can deliver such a lethal blow has to have a vast understructure on which the elite warriors train and prepare. It not only needs the enormous bases on which to train and live and from which missions can be launched, it needs the amazing machines and weapons that allow for stealth. As my pal Mark Levin was saying on his show last night, the super-secret helicopters that ferried the SEALs to the target weren’t the result of a procurement process that began under President Obama. If he wants to leave his successor in 2013 the same capabilities as he used this past weekend, he has to strengthen the Pentagon, not carve it down to keep his domestic political allies happy.
The SEALs and their inter-service colleagues did a great thing for national and international security when they took out bin Laden, but they also did a great service in underscoring why we invest so much in the Department of Defense.