Cheney to Special Ops: “We Have a Long War Ahead of Us”

Cheney presents heroism awards to special operators – Vice president to special ops forces: ‘We have a long war ahead of us’ (AP – Army Times)

Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday lauded and thanked international special operators for their role in the war on terror, but warned them that it is far from over.

“We have a long war ahead of us, and our enemies are waiting for us to let our guard down,†Cheney said, speaking to more than 300 people at the closing of the International Special Operations Forces Week conference. “But we will not relent in this effort because we have the clearest possible understanding of what is at stake.â€

Sobering words and a reminder that, contrary to revisionist remembrance, the Administration has told us from the beginning that the war on terror would be a long one.

Some well deserved kudos to our special operators:

Cheney said U.S. special operators — “silent professionals,†he called them — were “the first boots on the ground†when the war on terror began in Afghanistan nearly four years ago and played a key role in bringing down Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

“Once again, the contributions of special ops were critical in the swift downfall of a regime, and a strutting dictator went from a palace to a bunker to a spider hole to a prison cell,†Cheney said.

“At every stage of this conflict, we have looked to special operations forces to carry out the most perilous, the most technical, the most time-sensitive and least visible missions,†he said. “When you have enemies that are hidden, secret in their movements … the only alternative is to find out exactly where they are and go in and get them.â€

The story is slightly marred by a bizarre mistake, made twice no less, in referring to one of the medal recipients, Sergeant First Class Stephan Johns, as Sergeant Second Class.

Photo: Vice President Dick Cheney, left, awards U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Stephan Johns the Silver Star during a ceremony Friday afternoon at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. Johns was awarded the medal for gallantry in action against an armed hostile force in Afghanistan.

Given that there is no such rank and never has been, it’s rather bizarre. Even if the AP reporter didn’t know that, one would think the Army Times editors and/or webstaff would have caught the error.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Just Me says:

    Seems like that mistake may be the title editors mistake, since they got the Sergeant First Class right in the blurb describing the picture. What is weird is that nobody caught the mistake-since the correct rank was in the blurb.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Could be–although they also made the same mistake in the main article. The blurb was what they linked to.

  3. Just Me says:

    Don’t know then-maybe there was some petty officer second class getting awarded that day, and the reporter got all the ranks confused, but shoot, how hard it is it to google up the enlisted ranks and insignia?

  4. Juliette says:

    Be all of this as it may, SFC Johns has a nice rack with one more shiny to add to his jacket. Good for him!