Special Operations Forces (SOF) have proven themselves to be invaluable in today’s wars, but there is a long way to go in order to be prepared to confront rivals such as Russia, China, the Islamic State, and the subterranean crab people. After having consulted with authorities at the highest levels, including Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, as well as our greatest operators, such as Wile E. Coyote, I present the future of SOF laid out along three lines: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
Now, now, I quit the field! forbear to fright my tender soul, ye baleful birds of night; The lashing of your wings I know too well, The sounding flight, and fun’ral screams of hell! These are the gifts you bring from haughty Jove, The worthy recompense of ravish’d love! Did he for this exempt my life from fate? O hard conditions of immortal state, Tho’ born to death, not privileg’d to die, But forc’d to bear impos’d eternity! Take back your envious bribes, and let me go Companion to my brother’s ghost below! The joys are vanish’d: nothing now remains, Of life immortal, but immortal pains. What earth will open her devouring womb, To rest a weary goddess in the tomb!” She drew a length of sighs; nor more she said, But in her azure mantle wrapp’d her head, Then plung’d into her stream, with deep despair, And her last sobs came bubbling up in air.
Now stern Aeneas his weighty spear Against his foe, and thus upbraids his fear: “What farther subterfuge can Turnus find? What empty hopes are harbor’d in his mind? ‘T is notthy swiftness can secure thy flight; Not with their feet, but hands, the valiant fight. Vary thy shape in thousand forms, and dare What skill and courage can attempt in war; Wish for the wings of winds, to mount the sky; Or hid, within the hollow earth to lie!” The champion shook his head, and made this short reply: “No threats of thine my manly mind can move; ‘T is hostile heav’n I dread, and partial Jove.” He said no more, but, with a sigh, repress’d The mighty sorrow in his swelling breast. Then, as he roll’d his troubled eyes around, An antique stone he saw, the common bound Of neighb’ring fields, and barrier of the ground; So vast, that twelve strong men of modern days Th’ enormous weight from earth could hardly raise.
He heav’d it at a lift, and, pois’d on high, Ran stagg’ring on against his enemy, But so disorder’d, that he scarcely knew His way, or what unwieldly weight he threw. His knocking knees are bent beneath the load, And shiv’ring cold congeals his vital blood. The stone drops from his arms, and, falling short For want of vigor, mocks his vain effort. And as, when heavy sleep has clos’d the sight, The sickly fancy labors in the night; We seem to run; and, destitute of force, Our sinking limbs forsake us in the course: In vain we heave for breath; in vain we cry; The nerves, urac’d, their usual strength deny; And on the tongue the falt’ring accents die: So Turnus far’d; whatever means he tried, All force of arms and points of art employ’d, The Fury flew athwart, and made th’ endeavor void. A thousand various thoughts his soul confound; He star’d about, nor aid nor issue found; His own men stop the pass, and his own walls surround.
Once more he pauses, and looks out again, And seeks the goddess charioteer in vain. Trembling heviews the thund’ring chief advance, And brandishing aloft the deadly lance: Amaz’d he cow’rs beneath his conqu’ring foe, Forgets to ward, and waits the coming blow. Astonish’d while he stands, and fix’d with fear, Aim’d at his shield he sees th’ impending spear. The hero measur’d first, with narrow view, The destin’d mark; and, rising as he threw, With its full swing the fatal weapon flew. Not with less rage the rattling thunder falls, Or stones from batt’ring-engines break the walls: Swift as a whirlwind, from an arm so strong, The lance drove on, and bore the death along. Naught could his sev’nfold shield the prince avail, Nor aught, beneath his arms, the coat of mail: It pierc’d thro’ all, and with a grisly wound Transfix’d his thigh, and doubled him to ground. With groans the Latins rend the vaulted sky: Woods, hills, and valleys, to the voice reply. Now low on earth the lofty chief is laid, With eyes cast upward, and with arms display’d, And, recreant, thus to the proud victor pray’d: “I know my death deserv’d, nor hope to live: Use what the gods and thy good fortune give. Yet think, O think, if mercy may be shown- Thou hadst a father once, and hast a son- Pity my sire, now sinking to the grave; And for Anchises’ sake old Daunus save!
Or, if thy vow’d revenge pursue my death, Give to my friends my body void of breath! The Latian chiefs have seen me beg my life; Thine is the conquest, thine the royal wife: Against a yielded man, ‘t is mean ignoble strife.” In deep suspense the Trojan seem’d to stand, And, just prepar’d to strike, repress’d his hand. He roll’d his eyes, and ev’ry moment felt His manly soul with more compassion melt; When, casting down a casual glance, he spied The golden belt that glitter’d on his side, The fatal spoils which haughty Turnus tore From dying Pallas, and in triumph wore. Then, rous’d anew to wrath, he loudly cries (Flames, while he spoke, came flashing from his eyes) “Traitor, dost thou, dost thou to grace pretend, Clad, as thou art, in trophies of my friend? To his sad soul a grateful off’ring go! ‘T is Pallas, Pallas gives this deadly blow.” He rais’d his arm aloft, and, at the word, Deep in his bosom drove the shining sword. The streaming blood distain’d his arms around, And the disdainful soul came rushing thro’ the wound.
David S. Maxwell is the Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel.
Image: U.S. Army