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Mattis on Killing Bin Laden

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September 13, 2019
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“There was a way to put these outposts in with snipers and mortars, machine gunners, and forward air controllers and artillery spotters, and then push up those two valleys with a couple of companies of troops, and I had plenty of troops. I could have inserted the outposts along the border by helicopter in the high country because we had helicopters that could go in at that altitude.” -General James Mattis (USMC Retired)What would have happened if this had been true? Would we still be in Afghanistan? Would our enemies be so willing to fight when if we'd displayed the ability to go and kill who we wanted when we wanted? Whether this plan was real at the moment as Mattis' states or if it is some hindsight 20/20, the question still remains, what would the conflict in Afghanistan look like had this operation been given the go-ahead? Would it have changed anything to get Osama in the opening salvos of the war on terror?The truth is we'll never know for sure what could have happened, but we think it's a question worth fucking asking. Why? Because it serves as a lesson for future decision-making processes. At what point is the juice worth the squeeze? Or not worth the squeeze? And not just in human life, but in every single variable, supply, logistics, etc...Hypothetically speaking, for argument's sake, the answer to this question is that maybe, just maybe...Afghanistan campaign is over by 2005 if even that late or even a little later. Iraq campaign gets an influx of troops and supplies, thus ending that campaign by 2008 or a little later. All troops are back home by 2010...or earlier.Now that's a pretty gigantic assumption game we're playing here, but...let's take that as the scenario that exists. If we'd gotten OBL in the opening days, both wars are wrapped up by 2010. We know that's a huge gamble, but we're setting the stage for a reason, bear with us.Mattis' plan was stopped by CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks as he thought it simply a mistake. Was he right? Was he wrong? We'll never know for sure.Looking back, would the risk have been worth it? What if it was in 2010 that both wars had ended? Was the risk worth it then? Or 2012? Or 2014? Or 2018, just a year ago that everything was wrapped up? When do we hit a stage of diminishing returns when it comes to nailing extremely high-value targets and the inherent risk involved in doing so? Where is the risk versus return line drawn?Obviously we know that the sooner the war is over the better, but that's not the question we're asking. The question we're asking is what would be an acceptable level of risk/sacrifice versus timeline for ending the wars with a solid W (the W is for "Win", not George W. Bush)?Truthfully we don't know and we won't pretend to know. We only offered these questions and this piece so that in the future, if there ever comes a time where we have to answer these questions, it's not something we've never asked ourselves before.In closing, ask yourself this. What would the world look like if the wars had been over by 2008? Would veteran suicide be as high? Would the VA be as backlogged? Would businesses like ours exist? There are a whole host of relevant questions to ask ourselves about what the world could have been like, had OBL died in 2001.

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