The Bridge Too Far

March 25, 2015

The Bridge Too Far

By Arturo P. Garcia

While a sector of society in the Philippines calls on the President to apologize or accept his command responsibility on the Mamasapano misencounter, I deemed it wise for him not to.

Even former President Fidel Ramos who is prodding President Aquino III to apologize seemed to conveniently forget that he never apologized when the Abu Sayaff burned and pillaged several towns in Zamboanga De Sur in 1995. It was enough that he sacked the military commander then.

I still wonder why he wanted Aquino III to apologize. Is this coming from his military experience or he just seem to hold the President is such a low regard like others who belittle Aquino’s capabilities as a commander in chief because he has no military experience?

Again, I would like to point out, Aquino III is the Commander in Chief> And as the CIC he has to prerogatives to send his men to battle no matter what the cost is.

My unsolicited advice for the relatives and families of the SAF44, it time for them to stop bellyaching and accept the fact that it was a soldier’s choice to accept the results of the battle. This is harsh but this is true.

These soldiers or police commandos accepted the responsibility “not to reason why” but to “do or die” as Lord Alfred Tennyson has written as homage to the “Charge of the Light Brigade.”in the Battle of Crimea in Russia during the War of 1850.

I believe this has no effect to the cashiered SAF Commander General Leo Napenas for he keeps on bellyaching about Oplan Exodus. And I can understand him because his superiors, most especially the President has been so harsh and unkind to him.

Yes. It was right that militarily, the mission was a success. They brought home literally the bacon . err, the finger of the Jihadist Marwan as a proof of his death. But for too high a price- 44 SAF Commandos who are now heroes of the Christian world, to the detriment of the Moros in Mindanao.

But Napenas committed the grave error any military men can commit. To make false assumptions. In an interview he admitted that the President was the “principal” and General Purisima was the “agent” thus he followed the instructions of Purisima who was suspended in the assumption that was the right chain of command.

But alas, to his detriment, he found out later that he is responsible for the break in the chain of command because of the false assumption. As they say as a lesson in the military that Napenas failed to fathom, “assumptions are the source of all fuck ups.”

Marshal Ney, the best marshal of the Grand Armee of Napoleon made this false assumptions when he saw the British army regrouping in the Battle of Waterloo. The Duke of Wellington made the order to consolidate his ranks after his cavalry was decimated in an earlier charge

They retrogade more than 100 meters to regroup and made a defensive position just to straighten their broken lines due to the heavy artillery of Napoleon’s army. Ney thought the British were retreating and order his cavalry to charge.

That was a wrong assumption that resulted into a wrong decision. The result, Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo that he was winning before Ney made that wrong decision to send the cavalry without the support of the infanry.

Hitler made another wrong assumption that they can take Moscow by the end of summer in 1943. Thus he did not prepare winter clothes for his army of millions, thinking that the Russian Red Army was a push-over.
Thus when the winter came, hundreds of thousands of German soldiers died of cold in the coldest winter in Russian History in 1941 and the rest was history.

During the greatest Allied airbone assault in Holland in 1944, the 1st British Airbone Division lost 90% of his men holding the bridge at Arbhem without any promised support from the mechanized armored division and infantry.

When General Erhaquart , the 1st Division commander asked his superior why. The answer was brief: “Just think of it as a bridge too far.”

Napenas should heed his lesson. He knows its Quixotic to fight his superior. He even talk about it as the lesson he learned in the PMA. So my advice to him is this;

“Just think that the lonely bamboo bridge in Mamasapano is just one bridge too far.”


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