Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden challenges military chiefs on victory in Ukraine: ‘What is winning?’


Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill questions ‘what is winning’ in Ukraine

Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, challenges two U.S. generals over their concept of victory in Ukraine and calls for accountability on the U.S.’ role in the conflict.

On the one-year anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine, the man responsible for killing the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks challenged the ideas of military generals offering their expertise on helping Ukrainians win the ongoing war.

Rob O'Neill, the ex-Navy SEAL who claims to have shot Osama bin Laden, asked one simple question.

"What is winning?" he said on "Varney & Co" Friday. 

While the question may seem also rudimentary, it is worth asking, as O'Neill points out several times, when the U.S. has fought for a pending victory that never came. 


Woman searches for the grave of her husband, a Ukrainian serviceman killed in the Bakhmut area, in the Alley of Glory part of the cemetery in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda / AP Images)

On "Varney & Co" Friday, two military generals offered their definition of what a win would be in Ukraine as well as how to accomplish it. 

"Drive all the Russian troops out of Ukraine," Gen. Jack Keane said. "Every piece of occupied territory they are sitting on, drive them out. That is described as a military victory, not a negotiated settlement. It is a World War II-type ending."

"If you give them everything that they've requested in a timely manner, they can win this war decisively within a year. And that's just the facts in front of us," he added. 

What is winning? Rob O’Neill

Lt. Gen. Richard Newton echoed Gen. Keane's thoughts, pulling his definition from statements from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"Ukraine is winning. They can win this, and it's now up to the United States and the West to continue to keep the foot on the gas and provide the necessary capabilities for them not only to blunt what would be a Russian spring offensive but to also win this thing," he told host Stuart Varney. "Not win this thing in terms of what the conditions were set on February 24 of last year, but all the way back to 2014. To borrow President Zelenskyy's key points that he wants in a negotiated settlement, and that would be to return back to the Ukrainian territory, back to 2014. It's to certainly compensate Ukraine for all the again, this invasion and then also to pursue war crimes."


O'Neill, however, pushed back on the generals' confidence and their plan for achieving victory. 

"Generals never seem to have an answer [to] what is winning," O'Neill said. "It's always as long as it takes. We've been pretty good at doing mission creep since after World War II. We didn't do Korea well. We lost in Vietnam. You know, we invaded a couple of different countries, and then we didn't have a reason for going to Iraq. We did for Afghanistan, but we boggled that after two decades."

"So I would ask these guys with the stars on their shoulders, what is winning?"

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A local resident prays in a Christian Orthodox church in Kyiv, Ukraine. | Getty Images

After a year of fighting, the war in Ukraine is still raging on with growing demands for military and financial support from the West and NATO nations. On Friday, the Biden administration announced another $2 billion aid package for Ukraine in addition to new sweeping sanctions on Russia. 

"But just like anything from war to the vaccine, there's no money in the cure. There's just money in the treatment," O'Neill argued. "And they want this war to go as long as it goes, because a lot of people are making a lot of money in government contracts. And there are people on the ground amongst these people that say they need to go as long as it takes [that] have never seen the enemy up close, and they don't understand what it's like on the ground."


O'Neill even called for an audit of the Pentagon to better understand how leaders are using the department's budget and where American taxpayers' money is going. 

"So why is this money that we're sending to Ukraine going where we want it? And now we're not talking defense, we're talking offense. We're giving the best tanks in the world to people that can defend with them, but then they can also go to the Red Square like they're saying," he said. "This is a very, very dangerous game they're playing."

O'Neill also argued that the U.S. is "feeding" the war "from both sides" due to our economic policies and military aid. 

"You got to figure we're funding Russia and Ukraine. We're funding Russia because of our economic policies. We don't export enough oil. So people are buying it from Russia, like India, China. Some of our allies are buying Russian oil. It's a self-licking ice cream corner, and we're feeding it from both sides. And someone needs to take a sharp look at this and at least be accountable to the taxpayer. And that's what frustrates me."

While many respected generals and leaders have called for supporting Ukraine for the time necessary, the American public is more divided.

A new Fox Poll shows only 50% of Americans are willing to support Ukraine "as long as it takes to win" with 46% favoring a "limit timeframe." 

Gen. Keane argued that if the American people were shown "the president wants to give the Ukrainians everything they need and try to win this year, and if not this year, certainly the beginning of next year, I think that poll changes dramatically."


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O'Neill, however, challenged the lack of accountability and massive spending connected with Americans' concerns about the war. He also warned that the U.S. preoccupation with Ukraine is distracting from the growing threat of China.

"There's no game plan. There's no preparation. I mean, there's barely preparation and there's a war," he said. "We're taking the ball off of Taiwan and China is laughing the entire time. They've been watching us fight forever, and they've been studying and stealing while we do. So we just need a little accountability."

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