The attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan was horrific in many ways, The loss of six aircraft to a successful raid was awful but the men who fought to repel the attack and kill the enemy deserve to be the real story. One was the commander of the air unit and here is his tale told by a friend.
the memorial service for LtCol Chris “Otis” Raible this past Monday at my
former base in Yuma, Arizona. It was a
moving ceremony that required overflow seating set up outside the chapel in
Yuma’s typical 100 degree heat and not a seat went empty. But while certainly Otis’ story has permeated
the Yuma community, the rest of the country is disappointingly apathetic to
what happened last week on the night of 14 September at Camp Bastion,
Afghanistan. To some extent this is not
wholly their fault, the media coverage of this incident has been woefully
inadequate. Prince Harry’s safety was
not the story of the night.
As many have
heard upwards of 15 insurgents breached the perimeter of our airfield wearing
US Army uniforms, armed with weapons ranging from suicide vests to RPG’s and
even crew served machine guns. They
succeeded in destroying six USMC Harrier attack jets, severely damaging two
others, and putting one of our light transport airplanes out of commission for
some time. What you have not heard much
about is who defended the rest of the area that included buildings that housed
hundreds of Marines and dozens more USMC aircraft on the flight line; and what
you have not heard is who commanded them.
Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) took the brunt of the hit and they were commanded
by LtCol “Otis” Raible. Upon hearing the
initial shots and explosions, Otis grabbed his body armor and his pistol and
began to lead the counter attack which his squadron Marines had already
undertaken. As the night unfolded the
insurgents were pinned down in a fight that lasted over two hours and all but
one were killed. While Marines proudly
claim “every Marine a rifleman” and there certainly is some truth to that,
these were aviation maintenance Marines and attack jet pilots led by their
commanding officer. They don’t train to
this mission. They fix and maintain
highly complex aircraft; they fly missions at 500 knots in the skies over
Afghanistan in support of ground operations.
And yet they performed heroically, effectively killing the enemy on a
dark confusing night before any more casualties or significant damage were
suffered. We have since learned that the
insurgents were not only targeting aircraft, but also intended to blow up
housing facilities in order to kill as many Marines as possible while they
slept. The Marines of VMA-211 and the
Commanding Officer LtCol Raible thwarted their plan. Sadly “Otis” and Seargent Bradley Atwell were
killed during the battle. LtCol Raible
leaves behind a wife and three children.
THIS WAS THE STORY OF THE NIGHT and the leadership and the media have
been remiss in their duties in bringing it to the American people.
about this story and the expanding turmoil in that area of the world, I am observing
striking similarities in the lack of consideration Americans are giving these
serious events and it concerns me greatly.
Not long ago our enemies attempted to strike a decisive blow to lower
Manhattan and we paid attention for a few weeks. Then they brought down a building housing US
military personnel in Saudi Arabia and we barely noticed. A few years later they attacked our embassies
in Africa and we spent the media equivalent of five minutes considering the
ramifications of such an act; “hey the market is booming, why do I care what is
going on in that continent”, seemed to be the prevailing attitude. And then a few years after that, a remarkably
brazen attack on a US warship in port garnered little attention from the
populace. Our enemies were paying
attention though. We all will never
forget what took place less than a year later and Americans now were finally
paying attention. One of the biggest
misconceptions about September 11, 2001 is that the world changed that
day. The world did not change that day,
it just changed for us as Americans. The
world had been experiencing events such as these for decades, now we were
brought into the mix.
I am afraid
we are letting history repeat itself. In
the span of three days two US embassies and a major coalition air base were attacked. A US Ambassador and his aides killed, a
squadron commander killed defending his Marines and aircraft on the ground,
over $200 million worth of US military equipment lost on a single day; and the
media barely addresses these events past the day of occurrence. For reference, the attack on Camp Bastion
represents the largest loss of military equipment and capability in a single
day since the Vietnam War. Along with
that, dozens of US personnel have recently been shot and killed by their
trainees. This is all being explained by
the White House press secretary as having no operational impact on our policy
and the media seems to accept this with very little challenge and moves on. Besides being terribly insensitive to the
families of the fallen, this explanation is flat out wrong. A front line attack jet squadron losing its
commander and most of its aircraft has an impact; Marines and Soldiers being
killed by the very people we are there to help has an impact. Trust amongst our forces is absolutely vital
to the policy we have undertaken and it has eroded. Security at our embassies around the world is
essential for our diplomats and it is negligently inadequate. During the Iraq War every incident that
occurred was thoroughly investigated and covered by all media outlets; some of
it warranted some of it not, but at least they were asking the questions. Now these major events receive scant coverage
and the American people are the worse for it.
To my former
classmates from NYC and to all in general, begin to scrutinize this
administration and its policies. Don’t
accept flippant explanations that clearly are uttered in the hopes the issue
goes away. Pay attention to more than
just one issue at a time. It is not just
all about the economy; we paid a huge price for that thinking before. Demand to know why security was so lax for
our state department personnel in these trouble-spots. Be inquisitive about the choice of the
President to not meet with world leaders in New York this week, but instead
finding time for Letterman and The View.
The media has clearly been absent on this front and we should not stand
similarities between the recent and past events that I have outlined should be
cause for concern and America’s apparent apathy is worrisome, I still remain
optimistic because there is one major difference now that the enemies of
civilization have to contend with today.
We have men like LtCol Chris “Otis” Raible and tens of thousands like
him manning the front lines. We owe it
to them to “pay attention” and combined, we cannot be defeated. Rest in peace Otis, your brothers will take
it from here.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
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Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.