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Friday, October 2, 2009

Twenty-five minutes

Twenty-five minutes.

That’s all the General leading the fight in Afghanistan is worth. That’s all our troops are apparently worth to President Obama. It was convenient for Obama to use Afghanistan as a “heat sink” to show he’d be a good Commander in Chief during his campaign. But now that the fight there is no longer convenient, it’s under the bus for the whole affair.

Obama seemed so virile while campaigning for office – he has time and again called Afghanistan the “war we should be fighting,” but now he is asked by his commanders to deliver more troops and he can’t commit.

He stands impotent.

So where are we now? I think the only people qualified to answer that, are the generals on the ground. But I - a nobody, former ground-pounder - will take a stab at this one.

I believe if we’re not careful, we could be in Somalia.

We are dealing with a country, which has no solid government and make no mistake, we are engaged in hard warfare there. But Vice President Joe Biden wants to float a plan, which uses a quick reaction force and airpower to replace the troops in country. A similar plan was in place in 1993 before the Blackhawk helicopters were shot down in Somalia. And if you missed that one because you were busy that week – or you are too young to remember, or you had a hangover, or military affairs just weren’t your thing, just take my word for it – it didn’t go well.

But that’s just what today reminds me of. Today we have an indecisive, vacillating President, much like we had in 1993 with Clinton. Tomorrow we may have something completely different – something reminiscent of Vietnam.

Don’t think so? Believe “hope and change” extends to the battlefield. I’m not sure how well that translates into the various dialects being used in Afghanistan, but I’m pretty sure it’s something those back country terrorists aren’t going to listen to. Apologies and hand wringing don’t mean squat in the hard places. You’ve got yourself, your weapon and equipment, your buddies, your orders, your rules of engagement and your duty to your country. Your opponents have their whack-job beliefs, their own deadly equipment, better knowledge of the countryside – and sometimes, tactical surprise.

But in the end, that’s it. That’s all you get.

What you hope for is different. You hope your gear will hold up, you hope for a little luck, you hope people don’t forget you, you hope the President and Congress have their stuff together and know what they are doing, you hope to feel something again – because you’re trying so hard to tamp down the emotions which would otherwise drown you. You hope not to see the inside of a VA hospital – ever.

You hope to be alive tomorrow, and that you’ll see your home and loved ones again. Whatever comes after that, you don’t even like to dream about, because you’re not sure you’ll ever see it.

But I don’t think you ever hope that your commanding general will get more than 25 minutes face-time with the President.

That’s one that never crosses your mind. You just expect a bit more of the red-carpet brigade. You hope they’re spending a bit more time than 25 minutes discussing things, which might directly affect you, your buddies and your loved ones at home.

Those who suffer a lifetime of pain and sorrow; who suffer long periods in recovery and rehabilitation – they’ll always be proud of their sacrifice and they will always be part of a respected few - but they’ll remember that 25 minutes. I guarantee it.

So I hope you made it count.

1 comment:

  1. This is just what we need! Keep writing!! God Bless!!


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