I was surfing around the internets the other day and noticed on the Danger Room
a little post that said Army of Dude
was leaving Iraq. For those who don't know Danger Room is a little skeptical of our efforts over here in the cradle of civilization, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the soldier who's blog they link would feel similarly...but what the hell...
So to see what was up with this guy, I clicked on over there.
If you go yourself, you'll find one disillusioned soldier. After his fifteen months here he feels all we have done, all the lives lost, money spent is for naught. That is of course his right, he's earned it...in blood. I assume from his comments that some have opined that he doesn't exist or that he isn't what he reports to be. That is of course ridiculous in and of itself, because anyone who has been in the Army for more than a day knows that if one looks hard enough you can find soldiers that believe just about anything under the sun.
Of course people who believe that this war is a lost cause or a total waste will latch on to Mr. Horton's comments as their proof of the folly of this endeavor.
Someone who is a lot better with words than myself once said there are three sides to every story, yours mine and the truth.
I've been doing this Army thing for about 20 years now, and I can see in Mr. Horton's comments some of the things I've seen in my junior enlisted soldiers. They are at the absolute end of the information chain, they don't always understand or see the things that are readily apparent to even the newest LT...not because the LT is smarter, it's because we (the ARMY) are terrible at pushing information down to the lowest level. Soldiers want to know, and need to know why things are being done the way they are. Soldiers need to know the big picture. Leaders are failing their Soldiers if they don't keep them informed.
Does that mean I feel Mr. Horton is misinformed? Not necessarily, I wasn't in his unit. I don't know anything he experienced other than by reading what he wrote, and from what briefings I have been given about his AO. He is entitled to his feelings about the war and about it's conduct. But don't be fooled into believing that everyone feels that way...just like everyone doesn't feel the way I do.
It's unfortunate that he feels his service was a waste and his friends laid down their lives for a cause that was worthless.
I know my friends died trying to protect their buddies from the scum that shot up their aircraft. Scum, that align themselves with AQI, that if we weren't fighting them here, we'd be dealing with elsewhere.
When I returned to this place a year ago, it was rather depressing to say the least, it was if nothing had changed in the year and a half since I had been here last. I was disgusted not with the cause, but with the people who were running it.
My leaders had failed me...not the leaders you may think either. From what I've seen the Commander in Chief has given the military a free rein in running this show how they've seen necessary and in that regard there were some people who've done less than a stellar job. The end result, more money spent, lives and treasure lost...that didn't need to be. That's truly a shame...a crying shame. But does that mean our cause is lost? Does that mean it is wrong? Not at all...but it does mean that we are lead by human beings that are fallible and make mistakes. It would also be instructive to realize that our enemies are in this to win as well, they get a vote and they aren't going to go down easy.
To fly around the big city now is to see a totally different picture that when we arrived a year ago. It's much more calm. It isn't unusual to fly a whole mission without a troops in contact call...unheard of a year ago. In 2004 it was nearly impossible to fly at night without spotting some type of gunfire just about every minute if one looked hard enough. There were in fact engagements I was involved with that looked like something out of the final scene of Star Wars
and we were in the X-Wings attacking the Death Star. Now it's possible to fly hours without seeing it. Let me get this straight, it doesn't mean the war is won, but it does mean that I can see that things ARE
changing. It will be up to the Iraqis finish the job...but for what it's worth progress is being made...it's just a shame for everyone that it's taken this long.
I wish Mr. Horton the best of luck outside the Army and thank him for his service...maybe one day we will all be able to say that his and his comrades sacrifice was worth it.