By Sarah Olaciregui, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
May 2, 2012
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- It was standing room only in the Concord Auditorium of the Hanscom Conference Center as Cmdr. Travis Schweizer, a Navy SEAL currently assigned to the Naval War College as a College of Naval Warfare student in Newport, R.I., talked about some of his experiences in special operations and the importance of fighting as a joint team during a Heritage of Freedom event on April 27.
He began by painting a picture of an operation in Afghanistan -- a fast paced "five, four, three, two, one" mission in which the enemy is neutralized in the middle of the night in austere conditions. Schweizer explained the intense mission to give the audience an idea of what SEALs accomplish during day-to-day operations.
But he was quick to point out that Navy SEALs are only a small part of the equation.
"There's a quote by George Orwell that says, 'People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf,'" he said. "I would say that SEALs are some of these rough men. Some of you are also those folks. We're all in this ballgame together."
Schweizer talked specifically about the contributions of the Electronic Systems Center as he mentioned how Joint STARS was an invaluable resource and told a story about how radios, possibly acquired through ESC, played a part in saving the life of a fellow SEAL.
He explained how one man was knocked out by shrapnel from a grenade and presumed dead; however, he regained consciousness after the other special operations forces had pulled back, took down the enemy from behind, then radioed to his teammates to come in and get him. The SEALs quickly called off an airstrike and accomplished the mission.
"Your contributions can't be overstated," he said.
Schweizer then went through a brief history of SEALs, from their roots in the Pacific island-hopping campaign during World War II to President John F. Kennedy's need for guerilla warriors in the 1960s. He also touched on Operation Eagle Claw, which was the failed Iran hostage crisis rescue mission in 1980 - a key special operations moment - that eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Special Operations Command in the 1980s.
He stated that USSOCOM is an inherently joint command and that the future of the Department of Defense is for units from all services to work together.
"Today's military is about joint warfare," he said. "I consider you my teammates."
He also talked about counterinsurgency missions. Teams of special operations forces are going out to rural areas in Afghanistan and building relationships with the local population.
"We're ushering in good governance, building schools, building roads and providing services," he said. "We're teaching people to participate in their own security."
Schweizer emphasized how the United States has a national interest in Afghanistan, which he said is key to providing stability in the region.
"It's our duty to believe in the cause," he said. "We must have faith and continue. We've got a lot of reasons to stay. What can we do in a decade or two to change the world? This might be it."
Schweizer ended the discussion by taking many questions from attendees and offering words of encouragement for Airmen.
"Keep up the stuff you're doing."
Posted by Cmdr. Carla M. McCarthy
Original article at http://www.hanscom.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123300387