It’s Time Their Voices Are Heard…
September 27, 2007
The media often delights in highlighting stories about veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, that are against the war in Iraq. They don’t have a problem parading around people like Scott Beauchamp and others who falsely accuse our Troops of committing atrocities. They give credence to blatant liars. They don’t have a problem telling us about the ones who participate in the anti-troop groups such as ANSWER or Code Pink. Yet, it’s not often that they let us hear from the many more who are or have served in those countries, who feel it is necessary for us to remain in Iraq and complete the mission. It’s not often that they tell the story of the Wounded Warriors who are fighting to recuperate as quickly as they can, so that they can rejoin their brothers and sisters in arms, who are still in the fight. The other day, I ran across two pieces by Soldiers who explained their views on the war in Iraq and why they feel we should remain there to finish the job we started. I’d like to share them with you.
Why I want to keep fighting in Iraq
A US soldier gives his perspective on the war.
By Chris Brady
Despite strong public appeals by Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush this month, American views on the Iraq war remain dim. The latest Pew survey shows that 54 percent say US troops should come home as soon as possible, while 47 percent believe the US will probably or definitely fail to achieve its goals in Iraq. Many experts and politicians, meanwhile, have suggested the war can’t be won.
I am a US soldier in Iraq. And I disagree. It’s not too late to succeed. The stakes in Iraq are too high not to keep fighting for progress.
As a National Guardsman serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team, I’ve seen what is working on the ground in Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq.
In Kirkuk, just as in any American city, people go about their daily business attempting to provide for their families. The only difference is that in Kirkuk (and throughout much of Iraq), there is a small but extremely violent segment determined to deny citizens any semblance of a normal life.
Life in Kirkuk, of course, does not fairly represent conditions across Iraq. Having served more than four months in Baghdad, I know firsthand that violence has been much more severe in other parts of the country. But I’m convinced that the progress I’ve seen here can happen elsewhere.
Kirkuk is a city of many tensions. Ethnic strains have been compounded by a planned referendum about the city’s political status. But the good people of this city have largely resisted these factors that would tend toward sectarian strife and violence. And they, like many other Iraqis, still need America’s help.
I’ve been asked by more than one Iraqi, “How long are you staying?” When I reply “At least a year,” I’m told “A year is nothing in Iraq. It is a blink of the eye.”
Local tradesmen are justifiably proud of their history and are fond of printing “Welcome to Iraq â€“ More than 7,000 years of civilization” on hand-tooled leather goods. Time here is measured not in weeks and months, but in years and decades. How can we measure progress any differently?
For 35 years this country was under the thumb of a brutal regime that told the populace what to do, when to do it, and where. It is unrealistic to expect a battered national psyche to emerge unscathed and create a functioning government virtually overnight â€“ especially when the concept of “democracy” is as foreign to Iraqis as tribal relations are to Americans.
What Iraqis have accomplished to date is remarkable. In just over three years they have elected provincial councils nationwide, elected and seated a National Assembly, appointed a cabinet, and implemented a Constitution from scratch. Sometimes we forget that the birth of America was equally, if not more, chaotic. The US Bill of Rights alone took more than four years of intense debate before it became the law of the land.
The Provincial Reconstruc-tion Team I serve on has equal numbers of civilian specialists and military members, led by the Department of State, who work together to help Iraqis rebuild basic infrastructure, economics, rule of law, and governance.
We work throughout the province, “outside the wire,” which means off the Forward Operating Base, on a daily basis. We see firsthand the human face of longing for a better life. That is all the Iraqis I interact with want: peace, security, and a future for their children. It is exhilarating to sit and listen while the Provincial Reconstruction Development Committee, consisting of Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans, and Chaldo-Assyrians, hashes out project proposals and votes its approval to rebuild a school or construct a playground at a local orphanage. It makes me proud to play a role in this process.
Iraqis here are nervous that the US military will leave. By most assessments, the Iraqi police and Army are just not ready to operate solo. They work hard and improve daily.
I can see it in the pride they take in morning drill at the Kirkuk Government Building, as the commander puts the security force through its paces. The Police Academy in Kirkuk runs four training classes a day, six days a week. The academy has dug its own well for water â€“ without waiting for help from Baghdad. But these security forces simply need more time and mentoring before they can take on Al Qaeda or potentially other violent factions by themselves.
Politicians and thoughtful citizens alike decry US losses, and no one denies the fact that even a single American life is a high price to pay for the security of a foreign country half a world away. I’ve attended my fair share of “ramp ceremonies” where a thousand soldiers stand for hours at the position of attention well past midnight and salute a fallen comrade’s casket being carried aboard a plane for the final journey home. With the possible exception of family, no one feels the loss any keener than a fellow squad or platoon mate.
The reasons America got involved in Iraq may be suspect. But US forces are here, parts of the country are still broken, and regional security may hang in the balance if we don’t stay and help the Iraqis fix it. The effort is succeeding in the north, and it can in the rest of Iraq as well. America’s forefathers had help from other nations when the United States was born. Allow us to continue to help Iraq be reborn.
Lt. Colonel Chris Brady is a National Guardsman and the deputy team leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kirkuk, Iraq. His views are his own. This piece was subject to military review.
Both Soldiers who’s opinions I’m featuring here are National Guard Members. They both hold civilian jobs, apart from the Military, where they have the opportunity to make much more money than they do in the military, yet their committment to the military and this country remain strong. Both feel that the consequences of leaving what we’ve started in Iraq, unfinished, would be dire and invite yet another attack within our country’s borders.
A Soldier’s Feeling On The War In Iraq
by Antoinette McGowan
Joining the National Guard was not an easy decision with the war in Iraq going on. But after all things had been looked at and considered, I did make the choice to join. I, of course, will not be elgible to deploy until August of next year. But I do know how I feel as an American as well as a soldier. Also I do know that when I am eligible for deployment, I will do so without any question if my country asks it of me.
My pride in my country is what pushed me hard to become a soldier to defend my country. For many generations, Americans have stood up to fight for our freedom and to fight against injustices in other areas of the world. World War II was the first time in a long time that the enemy attacked Americans on American soil. No one protested when our government went to Japan and kicked their butts for daring to attack us on our own soil.
Now though we were attacked on our own soil September 11, 2001. So we went to kick some butt and show that we are a strong country and that we will not tolerate anyone attacking our country. Problem is though that many Americans oppose the war and oppose us defending ourselves. Why is it that now a days Americans no longer feel there is a reason to fight back? Have we become so passive and weak that we no longer care what happens to our country?
It does not matter if you like your president or not. What matters is that you care enough about your freedom to fight for it, to defend it at all costs. The majority of people believed in Bush enough to vote him into office but then turned on him for sending troops to Iraq to defend your freedoms. To me I don’t understand how we can trust him enough to vote him into office only to turn on him when he makes a judgement call that is done to defend our way of life.
The media is another area where the war in Iraq went to hell in a hand basket. The media portrays all the bad with this war but none of the good, or positive effects of this war. They have done a great job dividing Americans over this war. The only thing they are doing when they do this is tearing their own country apart. During a war time our country needs to stand together as one united country, not be divided over who supports that war and who is against the war. I have seen many people who supported the war and what the soldiers were doing change their outlook based on negative crap they seen in the media.
Presently we are over in Iraq to help them rebuild their country. Many would think that we should leave them to themselves to do this and just pull our troops home. Well look at it this way, we pull out of Iraq and they are taken over by more terrorists that are now obtaining more power. Let the terrorists obtain enough power and guess who they are coming after? They will come after us again.
When that happens many people who wanted to pull our Troops out are going to look around and wonder, ‘How did this happen?’ It happened because all those people stopped something that should not have been stopped. The more we stay on it to bring the terrorists down, the more we keep them from gaining power. The less power they have the more we as Americans can go to bed at night and sleep easier.
I personally am willing to do anything to maintain our way of life. I do not want to see another attack on American soil. I support what the troops are doing and have a lot of respect for them. They are putting their lives on the line to protect democracy and to keep us all back home safe. When the time comes I will feel honored to join them in their fight.
Author’s Disclaimer: This is written based on my personal views and beliefs. None of this represents the views of our government or other military soldiers. I speak solely for myself and no one else.
Because the media tends to not give much attention to the millions of Soldiers who feel we should remain in Iraq, it’s up to we as milbloggers and you as supporters of our Troops to allow their voices to be heard. It’s up to us to spread their messages far and wide, to all of our family and friends and ask them to do the same. These are the people who we should be listening to, not ones like Beauchamp who’s allegations have been proven to be falsehoods. It’s time then to shout out loudly for everyone to hear… Wake Up America!