In the largest loss of life since the war in Afghanistan began, this morning it was reported that 31 American and 7 Afghan SOF forces were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down at the end of a firefight. Reports conflict but it is likely that after the crash the surviving troops continued to take the fight to the enemy as their brothers lay dead all around them. This is a national tragedy due to the loss of so many but also because these men are part of a truly unique national asset, as we were reminded as recently as May 1st.
This incident, one of probably around four-six similar missions that run every night around Afghanistan, underscores the very real risk President Obama took in ordering the bin Laden raid. Had this happened in Abbottabad the devastating personal human tragedy would have been magnified into a national loss of prestige. Secretary Gates was reported as warning that the bin Laden raid could result in this kind of incident, as had happened when he was serving President Carter during Operation Eagle Claw. It should also act as a reminder of the the day to day risk all our forces face around the world. It puts the problems of our lives here at home in perspective.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ...Update:
From a friend who is one of the very few who knows what this story really means -
For our brothers.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66QcIlblI1U -
For the wretched (if they're not dead yet).... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxh-FfElY0M&feature=related