"My God was Bigger Than His": Boykin in Somalia

Revolutionary Worker #1271, March 20, 2005, posted at rwor.org

"I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

General Boykin, speaking about the time he headed the U.S. Army’s Delta Force in Somalia

Contrary to the story promoted by the U.S. government and the mainstream media, the U.S. did not go into Somalia in the early 1990s to carry out a "humanitarian mission" to save the people of a poor African country. Rather, the U.S. aim was to bully and impose imperialist order on this small country. The U.S. singled out as "enemy number one" General Aidid, leader of a large Somali clan who refused to go along with the U.S. program.

Boykin was in command of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, whose mission was to hunt down Aidid and his lieutenants. As part of this, Boykin led the failed raid in Mogadishu, portrayed in the movie and book Black Hawk Down. Among the Somali people, the Delta Force was the most hated of the hated U.S. occupying forces. They swooped in with helicopters that appeared suddenly in the sky, shooting anyone and anything at will. As the Army Rangers in the Delta Force slid down ropes, the helicopters blasted away with rockets and heavy caliber machine guns, destroying people, homes, livestock, businesses. The Rangers would quickly converge on their target, destroy the building or kidnap people, then just as quickly be picked up by the helicopters and disappear from the area.

In one raid, aimed at grabbing Aidid, the Delta Force mistakenly kidnapped a Somali general who the U.S. was grooming to help run the country. They laid waste to his home before realizing their mistake and letting him go.

The book Black Hawk Down describes the mind-set of Boykin and his men. This elite unit was Army- schooled in imperialist chauvinism and arrogance. They strutted around like they owned the world and had the right— and the power—to fuck anyone or anything they wanted. They greeted each other with "Hoo-ah!" They considered Somalis less than human, calling them "skinnies" or "sammies." They were all male and, according to the author, "nearly all white"—just a few Latinos and even fewer Black soldiers. When bored, they would take their choppers out to the African savannah and mow down wild animals from the sky.

Boykin’s Delta Force and the Army Rangers loved to terrorize the Somali people. Even when they were not carrying out raids, they often flew their powerful Black Hawk helicopters low over markets, streets and neighborhoods at any hour of the day or night. The intense downdraft from the helicopter blades damaged and destroyed entire neighborhoods, blowing down homes, mosques, market stalls and walls. It would terrify cattle. Women would have clothes torn off their bodies and infants torn out of their arms.

On one raid, the Rangers handcuffed a woman who would not stop screaming. Finally, a half hour later, a translator arrived and discovered that her baby had been blown down the street by the downdraft from the Black Hawk just before the Rangers handcuffed her.