In a piece that largely focused on his knife collection, Congressman Ryan Zinke offered a few tidbits in an interview with Stars and Stripes that might be of interest to anyone who has followed his rise in Montana and national politics.
On the Osama bin Laden raid, Congressman Zinke returned to his criticism of those who revealed the involvement of Navy SEAL Team 6 in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden:
Q: The mission that killed Osama bin Laden has made SEAL Team 6 more famous than ever. Are there any SEAL missions you really want to tell people about but are sworn to secrecy?
A: I signed disclosures on every one. With bin Laden, I think it should have been just “U.S. special operations forces” who were credited. I think we should have left it there. Over the course of time, it’s been drilled down to individual trigger pullers. …
After bin Laden, the Obama administration released what SEAL Team 6 did. I’ve been very critical of this administration for releasing information, in some cases while special operations were still on target. That is unprecedented.
Of course, on the morning after the raid, before anyone knew that SEAL Team Six was involved, he ran to press outlets all over the country to cover himself in unearned glory, outing his former team and providing specific details about the raid:
State Sen. Ryan Zinke, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, said Monday that his former unit, SEAL Team 6, led the assault that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – but that it had plenty of support from other branches of the military and intelligence community.
The team attacking bin Laden’s compound probably had about 40 people, he said, going in by helicopter. Security would have to be maintained on the outside of the building as mission members entered and tried to find the target inside, he said: “You’re on the clock.”
He also took an interesting, and sexist tack on women serving in special operations forces. According to Zinke:
In my career, there have been women operators that I’ve worked with, and I think everyone has their roles and missions…. It is not a question of being tough, it is a question of putting the right person in the right place. Not everyone needs to be a quarterback on a football team. Certainly women have a more significant role in the military than ever before, and I think we will continue to see that. Walter Reed (National Medical Center) has a significant number of women with weight-bearing injuries that have sentenced them to a lifetime of disability, so we have to be cognizant that the anatomy is different, and we want to make sure someone can go through a career without having to have a disability at the end.
That’s a somewhat different approach than his argument from two years ago, in which Zinke argued that women serving in combat missions will cost lives:
Former Navy SEAL commander and Montana State Sen. Ryan Zinke reacted sharply Wednesday to news the Obama administration will drop the prohibition against women serving in military combat roles, warning it is “nearly certain” to cost lives.
A Republican who served in the elite SEAL Team Six, Zinke cautioned that introducing male-female dynamics on the front lines “has the potential to degrade our combat readiness.”
Has Congressman Zinke’s positioned evolved from believing that women serving in combat will kill American soldiers and our military readiness to believing that they just lack the physical strength to carry weight and should be excluded on those grounds? If you’re confused, don’t worry—he will undoubtedly clarify his position by changing it soon.