The fourth and final medal of Honor thus far in current hostilities was awarded to Michael A. Monsoor, Master-At-Arms Second Class, US Navy, SEAL, action 29 September 2006.
As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof.
Here is the same scenario as the case of Jason Dunham, except here it is played out with SEAL personnel, highly trained experts in UW/GW. Again, U.S. types were put in positions that required extreme measures for the team to survive.
The first question is: Why did this element not have indirect fire support on call?
Second: Why is a sniper section of high value assets stuck out in an area without mutual support or interlocking fires of adjacent units? This is not Cowboys and Indians. No enemy should be allowed to get within grenade distance of a sniper enclave without friendlies putting protective direct fire on approaching hostiles.
Third: What is the escape and evasion plan? How would such a sniper element be exfiltrated if everything went wrong -- which is exactly what happened?
Four: Why would an SOF asset be used in areas that had hostile avenues of approach that were not covered by obstacles and fire?
Monsoor's scenario is yet another example of putting troops into harm's way without proper planning considerations evaluating enemy activity, avenues of approach and likely courses of action. These failures led to a situation which forced Monsoor to take action that would have been avoided through careful planning and mission preparation.
These are ugly truths, and Ranger held off making these observations for some time, hoping someone else would pick up the bloody mess. It is a crime when brave men lose their lives via poor planning.
Calling their actions heroic and giving their parents the son's posthumous medal does not ameliorate the manifold failures which went into causing these men's deaths. Their heroism is the result of that poor planning.
It is not that the Soldiers' and Marines' actions were above and beyond the call of duty, so much as the command put them into positions that required above and beyond performance.