On 3 May, this nation lost its third military member in action in Iraq since Obama sent troops back into the country in 2014. He was a son to his mother and father, a friend to many, and a brother in arms to everyone who puts on the uniform each and every day. Charles Keating IV came from a line of military men, to include his grandfather, a World War II pilot that passed away in 2014, and his great-grandfather that served in World War I.
Charles Keating IV enlisted in the Navy in 2007, and after only 9 years of service had done a tour in Afghanistan, and this marked his third tour in Iraq. He was a Navy SEAL, and while those 4 combat tours might sound like a heavy schedule to some, for these men, that just comes with the territory. The 31 year old was there as part of the US program to provide training to Peshmerga forces combating ISIS.
On the morning of 3 May, US advisers on the ground in Mosul training the Peshmerga forces were subjected to an attack in which approximately 20 trucks with bombs were detonated and around 125 ISIS fighters broke through the lines to engage the Kurdish forces and US advisers. Keating was part of a Quick Reaction Force sent in to evacuate the US advisers as the Kurdish forces engaged ISIS for over 12 hours. Col. Steve Warren is quoted by CNN as saying that the firefight was “a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently”. The Quick Reaction Force was able to evacuate the advisers, but Keating was struck by direct fire during the operation. Despite the attempts of the crews of two medical helicopters, which were also subjected to small arms fire, Keating’s wound would be fatal.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has described the actions of Charles Keating IV as heroic, sacrificing his life for the other Americans that he was helping to evacuate to safer ground. Indeed, having heard the recounting of heroic actions of other medal recipients, this definitely seems to qualify him as a hero, and the actions definitely seem combat-related to me.
However, this administration, for political reasons and in order to maintain the psy-op on the American people that says that there have been no combat deaths in the battle against ISIS, has proclaimed that this was not a combat death. I suppose that this should be no surprise to those of us that have followed the tendencies of this administration to call mass-shootings on unarmed military bases in the US “workplace violence”, and perhaps that is what this administration will term the combat death of this young American hero. And I guess the willingness of this administration to dishonor the death of an American hero should come as no surprise when we take a look at the track record of the “Commander in Chief” with regard to our military servicemen.
Recent reporting suggests that our military is at a breaking point as this administration continues to cut funding while also adding more workload to it. The frustration of senior military officers with this administration is at all-time highs according to some reports. In the face of a resurgent and hostile Russia and continuing escalation of tension with China, not to mention the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan where the departure of US troops on the ground left a vacuum for ISIS and the Taliban to gain ground, this administration has chosen to shrink our military to pre-World War II levels, while continuing to add new mission sets to an already depleted and weary military force. Obama has presided over an administration that saw one of the greatest tragedies to befall those that served our country in the scandal of the Veterans’ Administration, which has yet to be fixed, and has created an environment where 22 veterans a day commit suicide. And this is just the tip of the iceberg off the top of this writer’s head.
What we have witnessed from this current occupant of the White House is a very clear and consistent pattern of behavior that shows his true feelings towards those that wear the uniform. He has continually disgraced them and this country in his crusade to weaken this once great nation. This is why as we move forward into the end stretch of the current presidential campaign, we cannot afford to make the mistakes we have in the past two. We can’t afford to have a criminal, a devoted socialist, nor a reality TV star in the White House, because they don’t have the experience to lead men. Errors in judgment when controlling military forces cause people to die. These are not just numbers – these are our sons, our friends, our brothers in arms. Fair winds and following seas, Petty Officer Keating. I salute you and your service.