Earlier this week, a 2017 tweet from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) surfaced in which she attacked the men who helped defend from starvation and civil war the country she abandoned in the early 1990s. In her tweet, Omar blasted “American forces” for killing “thousands of Somalis” during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. “#NotTodaySatan,” Omar wrote.
I take special exception to Omar’s disgusting comments because I served in the Battle of Mogadishu, which was later portrayed in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” If you aren’t familiar with the real story behind “Black Hawk Down,” let me set the scene for you.
In late 1992, President George H. W. Bush launched Operation Restore Hope in support of United Nations initiatives to restore some semblance of law and order to Somalia, which was wracked by devastating famine and violent warlords eager to use the chaos and hopelessness to establish corrupt fiefdoms.
The purpose of American involvement in Somalia was to protect the peacekeepers tasked with the near-impossible mission of delivering vital food and medical supplies to the starving, war-torn population. As the aid grew, so did the opportunities for graft from warring clans who saw the humanitarian crisis as a way to cement their power throughout the country.
The Habar Gidir clan, one of the more powerful clans around Mogadishu, was led by the notorious warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid, who made the distribution of international aid to those who needed it nearly impossible. Instead of equitably spreading food and medical supplies, Aidid and his henchmen spread terror and death.
On June 5, 1993, two dozen Pakistani soldiers working for the United Nations peacekeeping effort were attacked and killed by forces loyal to Farah Aidid (three Americans were injured in that attack as well). The next day, the U.N. passed a resolution condemning the attack and calling for the arrest of those responsible and of those inciting and organizing other attacks against U.N. forces. The man most responsible for the violence was Aidid himself, who unilaterally declared himself president (he was never recognized as a legitimate political leader).
Task Force Ranger was the 1993 military effort ordered by President Bill Clinton to capture Aidid and his lieutenants so the U.N. could deliver food and medical aid without fear of being attacked or killed by Aidid’s forces. The American soldiers Omar attacked in her tweet — the men of Task Force Ranger –weren’t sent to Somalia for fame or fortune. They weren’t there because of a deep desire to visit the God-forsaken nation of Somalia. They were deployed to support peacekeepers who were desperate to rescue the country from starvation and the ravages of civil war. To do that, they had to capture the men responsible for it.
By the time Task Force Ranger had been launched, Aidid’s network of drug-addled, Khat-dealing gun runners had taken over Mogadishu and were doing everything they could to oppress any and all rival clans, including that of Omar, the Majeerteen. In other words, we were sent halfway across the world to help protect people just like Omar and her family. Nineteen incredible men gave their lives defending her country while serving ours. They deserve to be lauded for their service, not attacked for it.
I am thankful Omar and her family and countless others were able to escape to neighboring Kenya while we fought to protect those left behind, but I simply cannot comprehend her attitude towards those of us who fought to protect her country and countrymen from warlords who plunged Somalia only further into violence and starvation. I am glad that Omar can now enjoy the very freedoms we fought to protect, like the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion affirmed in the U.S. Constitution, but I don’t understand why she uses those freedoms to slur the men and women of the U.S. military who made her security and liberty a reality.
The simple truth is that Omar enjoys the fruits of American combat deaths, yet she can’t even bring herself to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice that was made on her behalf, either as a Somali or an American. Her clan didn’t stand a chance against Aidid and Habar Gidirs, so I don’t blame her for leaving. But I do blame her for attacking those of us who had zero personal interest or investment in her nation for doing our jobs on behalf of our country. And I blame her for smearing American servicemen because we answered the call of our nation to address the violent barbarism of hers.
Unlike Omar, I’m not a politician. I don’t have power or influence. I don’t have a vote in Congress or the ability to direct America’s foreign policy. I’m just one of the men who strapped it on as a member of Task Force Ranger and went into harm’s way to help bring peace and security to her and her people. And let me tell you, she missed a helluva fight.