Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

General Saw No Need to Use Tanks Officer Speaks on Raid to Catch Somali Warlord

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

General Saw No Need to Use Tanks Officer Speaks on Raid to Catch Somali Warlord

Article excerpt

The general in charge of last fall's ill-fated raid in Somalia said Thursday that few if any lives would have been saved had the Defense Department granted an earlier request for tanks.

"I do not believe it would have had any significant impact on the casualties suffered," Army Maj. Gen. William Garrison told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Garrison was making his first public comments since the raid on Oct. 3 that left 18 Americans dead and 84 wounded. The American forces were trying to capture a Somalian warlord suspected in the deaths of U.N. forces.

One soldier, Cpl. James Smith of Long Valley, N.J., might have lived had his comrades been able to move him to an operating room within an hour, Garrison said. But they were trapped in a fire fight, and relief forces, who did have tanks, were harried on their way to the rescue.

The raid marked a turning point in congressional support for the Somalian operation and, in a larger sense, for peacekeeping operations in general. Under pressure from Congress, President Bill Clinton ordered virtually all U.S. forces out of Somalia by the end of March.

Relatives of those killed have sharply criticized Clinton for allowing then-Defense Secretary Les Aspin to reject requests from military officers in Somalia for tanks.

Smith's father, Jim Smith, said, "It would have made a significant difference. Information has to come from the White House as to how certain decisions were made. …

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