I wasn’t any kind of hero when I was in the Army, and I am not a scholar of military history, but having spent some time in uniform, I just can’t understand this nonsense of putting deadlines on a war.
The United States has a timetable which calls for the withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq by September, 2010. Now President Obama has called for an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, with the deployment of 30,000 more troops. The administration says they are confident that this increase in troop strength, at a cost of $30 billion, falls in line with Obama’s July, 2011 deadline to start bringing troops home from Afghanistan.
That’s what happens when politicians thousands of miles away determine military policy, instead of letting the generals who are on the ground run a war. You cannot take a trip unless you have a clear destination in mind. Nobody gets in their car and says “I’ll drive for two hours, or two days, or two weeks, and then my journey will be over.”
The way I grew up understanding warfare, from the perspective of my father and uncles’ World War II service, you advanced upon the enemy, fought them until they were defeated, and kept on rolling forward until all that was left behind you was the smoking wreckage of the enemy’s army, and you had whipped whatever was left into submission. How do you put a schedule on that kind of action?
What happens if your enemy doesn’t have the same schedule as you do, as we saw in Vietnam, and are facing now in Iraq and Afghanistan? What happens when your enemy is committed to the fight for the long haul and is willing to outfight, out kill, and outlast you?
Do we reach that arbitrary date on the calendar and just say “we’re done” and walk away, like we did in Vietnam, wasting 58,226 American lives, killed and missing in action, for nothing? If it’s just going to be a date on a calendar, why not tomorrow, or the next day, or next week?
Obviously we are not in this fight to win it, if we are going to adhere to a schedule instead of destroying the enemy. Will we accomplish any more by waiting months, or years, to reach that predetermined conclusion to the war, other than wasting more lives and money?
Tags: Afghanistan, Army, combat troops, enemy, enemy army, escalation of war in Afghanistan, generals, hero, Iraq, military policy, missing in action, politicians, President Obama, scholar of military history, troop deployment, troop strength, United States, Vietnam, Vietnam War casualties, war, warfare, World War II