Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Afghanistan Should We Pull Out Now?

This a brief, personal commentary on yesterday's tragedy in Afghanistan.

The deaths of Afghan civilians as reported yesterday at the hands of an as yet unnamed American soldier is deplorable, regrettable, and down right sad.  In defense of him, if there is really any defense at all, is that he probably should never have been put back into a combat situation again.

Scene from Afghanistan
Here is a man who more than performed his duty by serving 3 tours in Iraq and somewhere in the process received a traumatic brain injury, had marital problems, was cleared medically for combat, and then was sent to Afghanistan for another tour.  At what point is enough enough?  This man with all he has gone through probably did not need to do another tour of duty in a battle zone.  Clearly he had psychiatric problems which likely presented themselves long before he was deployed for the fourth time.

How many times, and for how long can one be put into these kinds of unusually stressful situations and be expected to come out of them with no side affects?  It only takes one tour to change a persons life forever.  How much damage is caused by repeated exposure?

I know there has been discussion and recent comments by members of both political parties and the Republican candidates for President as to whether we should get out of Afghanistan even earlier than the end of 2014.  Strategy is something that I think we always need to consider and reconsider, but in the case of Afghanistan, we need to try to leave the country, which we invaded, in better condition than when we got there.

Unfortunately they have a president in Hamid Karzai, who is generally unpopular and viewed as a puppet of the United States.  They have and will continue to have tribal disputes as a normal course of business because culturally this is how it has always been and lastly, and most importantly, the Taliban appear to be waiting for our imminent departure so that they can once again begin their reign of terror on the people of Afghanistan.

These are not the things our brave men and women are fighting for and giving their lives for.  As someone with a son fighting the war in Afghanistan, I find that as much as I want him to come home, I also want his sacrifice for our country to mean something.

Walking away now will not make us any safer and would likely result in Afghanistan's resurgence as a friendly terrorist training ground.  Yes, we may need to change strategy and rethink our definition of what a win is, but 10 years into this battle we can scarcely afford to cut and run leaving the country in turmoil.

I mourn for the Afghan families who died at the hands of our service member and I worry about the comments levied by the Taliban threatening to behead Americans.  As a father of a soldier it is natural to be concerned.  What we have to remember is that the greatest majority of our armed forces members are outstanding, brave, and honorable people and that the actions of this individual are not representative of the good works that are being done.

I would ask that we not let the actions of this soldier soil the honorable service provided by the great majority of our men and women in uniform.  By all means lets have constructive dialogue about the course of this war, but not at the expense of the safety of our soldiers.