Nothing is ever as good or as bad as initially reported
DONALD MYERS, A Mind ofNothing is ever as good or as bad as initially reported is an adage that I have followed for most of my adult life.
Published: November 3, 2012
Published: November 3, 2012
It especially applies in combat but also in fluid situations such as natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, or storms. These are situations where information is needed rapidly and more often than not demanded. As a result, whatever information is available or thought to be current is provided.
The latest storm that hit the east coast is a good example of what happens during a natural disaster. Things can change rapidly, and in many cases they do not make much sense. Why was one area devastated and another area saved is a question that may arise? Katrina and the Oil disaster in the Gulf also come to mind. The misinformation in both was huge and took quite a while to be sorted out
Our technological abilities have improved dramatically and can provide data rapidly to include live pictures, but we still get it wrong because of human input or analysis. It seems that the more information that we have, the more information that we want. Decisions can be delayed while waiting for more information and in some cases a window of opportunity closes because of the delay.
I recall an incident in Vietnam when one of the company commanders in a firefight requested an emergency resupply of ammunition. I asked if he had stripped his dead and wounded of ammo and he replied that he hadn't.
After he did, he did not need an emergency resupply. This was the first combat tour for this company commander and he merely forgot about some basics before requesting that ammo. On another occasion, higher headquarters demanded to know how many enemy had been killed while we were still in a firefight.
I delayed as long as possible and then gave an estimate and stressed that it was an estimate. After the firefight ended and we were able to search the area, I reported the final enemy casualties. The estimate and final tally were not the same. Higher headquarters had already reported to its higher headquarters without stressing that it was an estimate. Oops!
We are now faced with a situation in Benghazi where four Americans were killed to include the ambassador. The first weeks, we were told that a movie unflattering to Muslims was the cause of rioting that got out of hand and resulted in an attack on the American consulate.
Even at the outset, that sounded a little strange, but what could we do? Our UN ambassador, the president, and Secretary of State all stressed that the attack was not preplanned and resulted from the YouTube movie. Since then, information has been leaked that tells a different story, but the administration continues to tell different stories that do not make sense.
The president stated that he ordered every effort to support our people. According to Bing West a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and a Marine combat vet from Vietnam, he stated that that would have released military forces to act.
However, defense Secretary Panetta said that he did not have enough information to act. We have since learned that there was direct communications with those in Benghazi and they were asking for help. Air and troop elements were in a position to assist, and could have gotten there in a couple of hours, but they were not given the order to move. The battle in Benghazi lasted for over seven hours before the last two Seals were killed.
Some of the information that we hear is that there was live coverage by a drone overhead along with communications with those on the ground, attack aircraft were one hour away, and a combat Marine company was two hours away.
If the president said to use all efforts to assist, then what happened? Exactly where were the President, Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs, and National Security advisor. This all occurred on Sept. 11 and we still do not have answers. How long does it take to get the true story?
Donald J. Myers, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a regular columnist for Hernando Today. He lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.