Defining “The Mission” Whether in Afghanistan Or Texas

by | Nov 14, 2018

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Wednesday addressed active duty troops who’ve been stationed in an unlikely place: the US-Mexico border, where close to 6,000 troops have been dispatched by Trump ahead of the much hyped caravan expected to seek illegal entry into the country.

There were some stunningly frank and eye opening statements during his televised speech given in the “field” (alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen) at a border patrol station in Brownsville, Texas which just as easily could have been said in front of troops in Afghanistan. Via BuzzFeed reporter Vera Bergengruen:

Mattis told troops deployed to the border to ignore news coverage questioning the mission: “There’s all sorts of stuff in the news… If you read all that stuff, you’ll go nuts, you know what I mean?”

Marine Corps combat veteran Thomas Gibbons-Neff heard echoes of America’s “forever war” in Afghanistan during Mattis’ speech (Gibbons-Neff saw combat there):

And more echoes came in the following exchange…

When one soldier asked whether the Army would be removing the miles of concertina wire troops have been erecting along choke points and areas easily breached, Mattis said: “we’ll let you know.”

Another soldier bluntly asked Mattis precisely about official goals of the non-conventional border mission, to which he responded:

“Short term, get the obstacles in. Longer term…it is somewhat to be determined.”

Next stop… Kabul, where he can simply recycle the same speech. Or probably not. As usual the media will miss the central irony of Mattis all but admitting we don’t know what the hell the mission is… but we’ll let you know.

His words are all too honest about how Washington’s foreign policy actually works.

While the media will turn Mattis’ latest admissions into the usual hyperpartisan left/right “I’m shocked! just shocked!” outrage of the day connected solely to the immigration debate, veterans will hear in their ears a reminder of the utterly futile “terror wars” that have done more than anything else to weaken our national security while draining us of vast and priceless blood and treasure over the course of nearly two decades.

If you read all that stuff, you’ll go nuts. 

…Say again Mr. Mattis?

…Yeah man that comes later anyway when you’re waking up in the middle of the night still trying to figure out why your friends are dead.

About Brad Hoff

Brad is a native Texan and US Marine veteran who after leaving the military began wandering around the Middle East, eventually making Syria his second home. He's authored multiple stories for his blog Levant Report which gained international attention. Find his writing at, SOFREP, Foreign Policy Journal, The Canary (UK), and others.

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