This perspective offered for any who have ever discussed our Country's involvement in overseas conflicts AND wants true insight into whatever debate there may have been or is yet to come. This is not from a politician, bureaucrat, or activist; it is personal and from my son Chris, a combat veteran who commanded troops and was directly involved.
I am confident that you will learn more about our military involvement from this one passage than from all the hot air, bluster, bravado, and commentary you have heard to date. While this one "Soldier's Story" is most personal for Chris and our family, he agreed that it was one that needed to be told.
Then a 1st Lieutenant and platoon leader, Chris' 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne deployed in the summer of 2009 to Farah Province in Afghanistan. Farah was one of the most insecure areas in the relatively peaceful west, and Chris and the men of "C" Troop, 4-73 Cavalry, were assigned the unenviable and difficult task of clearing out the Taliban from a place that no one ever imagined them leaving.
Their assault on the provincial city of Shewan broke the back of the Taliban, and brought much needed medical help and supplies to a beleaguered populace. Over that year of deployment, these brave soldiers stabilized the region, losing forty of their own doing so. A successful mission by any measure.
When Chris and his comrades fought in this operation in Shewan, our family lived through it stateside, hoping for both a successful mission and his safe return. With God's help, we realized both.
Yesterday, we learned the unthinkable; the BBC reported an Afghan police commander and 13 junior officers joined the Taliban in the western Afghan province of Farah, in what correspondents say could be the biggest defection by police. The men are said to have taken heavy weaponry, radios and police vehicles including US-made armored Humvees.
"Long before the commander defected, he must have been passing intelligence and crucial information to the insurgents," an official stated. The province has a strategic position, bordering Iran, and the key Kandahar-Herat highway passes through Farah, which is now seeing increasing levels of violence.
I can only imagine the pain, the sense of betrayal, those who served in this operation felt. Chris offered the following perspective which begins to detail that “Soldier's Story":
"For my civilian friends: To put how this feels into perspective for you, imagine taking an entire year of your life, and devoting it to accomplishing a single goal. Imagine you and the best people you know pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into a cause. Picture endless dismounted patrols in the hot sun, in sandstorms, dust, mud, with 75 to 120 pounds of equipment, often three times a day on less than five hours sleep. Envision spending countless hours training and equipping a people to fight their aggressors, and standing side-by-side with them in doing so.
Now, picture that after all of that work, and all of the broken hearts and broken families that resulted from it, you wake up one day and discover that the goal you were working towards has been crushed. Now, you might be able to understand the impact of this article on anyone from C Troop, 4-73 Cavalry, and the men who fought before, after, and alongside us.
For my former Soldiers: Despite how this might feel for you (and it might feel completely different for each one of you), it does not minimize what we did together. We cleared the Taliban from a place that no one ever imagined them leaving, even if only for a time. We demonstrated that men from diverse backgrounds working together can overcome the most austere and dangerous conditions.
We left it all on the field, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. When we are all grandparents, we can still proudly speak of the sacrifice that was put into a noble cause, and of the fight we took to the enemy in the name of freedom and in response to the worst attack on our nation in its history."
This is real, true, and should make each and every one of us demand politicians clearly define the implementation and expectation of our mission before we commit the lives of our real 1% ... the heroic men and women of our Armed Forces. We should not expect these warriors to accomplish a mission, spilling their blood to do that, only to see those sacrifices betrayed. All that said as a proud yet somewhat frustrated military Dad, I am most proud of the fact that I know each and every one of Chris' comrades feel the same way he does, and will hold their head high with the knowledge that yes, they answered the bell when their nation called. We are all blessed to have them and all those who served before them.