Iraq and Afghanistan

 

The Register Guard of Eugene Oregon published an editorial, the type of which you can see in just about any newspaper. It caught my eye because it was brief, to the point and contained some basic stats which I found interesting.

For the first time since President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, an entire month has passed without a single U.S. soldier dying in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 4,474 American service members.
The U.S. military is preparing to pull the last troops out of Iraq by the end of the year in accordance with a 2008 security agreement between the two countries. But there is troubling talk in Washington and Baghdad of extending that deadline to have U.S. troops remain longer in Iraq.
While Iraq was becoming less lethal, 67 U.S. troops died last month in the Afghanistan war, making August the deadliest month for Americans in the longest-running war in U.S. history.
Obama should also continue — and expedite — the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, site of a nearly decade-long war in which this country has invested $1 trillion, 10 years of effort and the lives of 1,754 U.S. troops.

I'm tired of the BS from Washington about withdrawing troops which usually comes with the disclaimer that the date could be postponed. What do the guys on the ground in Iraq think? Are they of the opinion that we're doing something worthwhile there? Or are they cynical and angry?

I suppose it's a good sign, no it definitely is a good sign that no fatalities happened in Iraq last month. My sincere prayer is that it may continue like that and somehow the government will do the right thing by the end of this year.

Afghanistan is another story. What in the hell has been accomplished there at such a cost? Was it all about Bin Laden and the Taliban? I doubt it, but whatever else it is, some strategic balance of power in the region or whatever, I say that's enough. Let's get out of there.

Unfortunately, as the August deaths indicate, it's going in the opposite direction. What do those troops think? Is the idea that the U.S. is policing the world in order to make it safer something that sustains them? Bush and Bush supporters always said that, but do people still think that way?

The op-ed I linked to made the point that in order to heal the economy at home we need to stop spending so much on these wars. That may be true, but to me there's a more important reason, a more human reason to end these ill-fated endeavors. We have young Americans dying over there and I honestly cannot see for what.

As has been said many times in defense of pacifist and non-intervention arguments, the best way I can see to support the troops is to bring them home, every one. We can spend some of that money on VA hospitals and PTSS clinics. We can invest in education and vocational programs for these young volunteers.

This is how we can make America strong.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

(cross posted at Mikeb302000)

 

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Dozens of Father's days; Decades of Grief

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Christopher Kenneth Frison is seven months old.

He's too young to understand Father's Day.

And he's certainly far too young to be able to get an allowance or a job to buy a card and a nice gift.

He isn't too young to be able to hug his father.

But he won't ever be able to do that again. Not today. Not next year. Not ever.

His father, 1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison, a parachutist and infantry officer, was killed in Khost province, Afghanistan, May 10. He was 26 years old.

His widow, Mikki, told the Lancaster New Era that she and Demetrius first met in Middle School in Philadelphia, attended different high schools, and then went to Millersville University in 2003. Both graduated with degrees in psychology. They married in March 2009, a month before he joined the Army. Christopher was born November 17, 2010. At that time, Frison, who had trained at Fort Benning, Ga., was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky.

The last time Frison saw his son was shortly before his first deployment to Afghanistan in January. Four months later, he was dead.

Christopher Kenneth Frison isn't the only one who won't be able to celebrate Father's Day. There are thousands, a few who never had a chance to meet their fathers, many who are now young adults.

1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison is one of 264 Pennsylvanians, one of 6,082 American troops killed in what are now America's longest wars. In Afghanistan and Iraq, 54,609 Americans have been wounded, thousands who have permanent physical injuries, all of whom are likely to develop levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Department of Defense estimates that 78,000 soldiers have developed PTSD in the past decade; the Veterans Administration believes the number is closer to 800,000. Those numbers don't even include the soldiers who served in dozens of wars and military actions since World War II.

 1st Lt. Frison, who had earned four service ribbons in his two years in the Army, received three more in May. The Army posthumously awarded him the NATO, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart medals.  But not one medal is worth the life of a soldier who never saw his first Father's Day with his son, nor the son who will have dozens of them without his father.

          

          [Contributing were Rosemary R. Brasch, the Fort Knox public affairs office, the Philadelphia Tribune, and the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal.]

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2011: Two Names That Matter

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Unless you were in a coma the past few years, you probably know who Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton are.

You heard about them on radio, saw them on television.

You read about them in newspapers and magazines, on Facebook, Twitter, and every social medium known to mankind.

 Because of extensive media coverage, you also know who dozens of singers and professional athletes are.

Here are two names you probably never heard of. Sergeant First Class Clifford E. Beattie and Private First Class Ramon Mora Jr.

They didn't get into drug and alcohol scandals. They didn't become pop singers or make their careers from hitting baseballs or throwing footballs. They were soldiers.

Both died together this past week from roadside bombs near Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class Beattie, from the small rural suburb of Medical Lake, Wash., spent 17 years in the Army, and was in his third tour of duty in Iraq. On the day he was killed, according to the Spokane Spokesman–Review, he had participated in a run to honor fallen soldiers. Sgt. Beattie was 37 years old. He leaves two children, one of whom was three weeks from graduating from high school; four sisters, a brother, and his parents.

PFC Mora, from Ontario, Calif., a city of about 170,000 near Los Angeles, was in his first tour in combat. He was 19 years old. "He was a very serious student, and education was important to him," Carole Hodnick, Mora's English teacher and advisor, told the Ontario Daily Bulletin. Hodnick also remembers him as having "a charisma about him, and the students just fell in line with him."

Clifford E. Beatttie and Ramon Mora Jr. were just two of the 6,049 Americans killed and 43,418 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan in war the past decade, the longest wars in American history.

You can't know or remember all of their names. But you can remember two.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. 

Two Americans. One near the end of his Army career. One not long out of Basic Training. A White Caucasian and a Hispanic. Two different lives. Two different cultures. Two Americans.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. Killed together more than 7,000 miles from their homes.

As you prepare for Memorial Day barbeques, surrounded by celebrity-laden news, remember the names of Clifford E. Beattie and Ramon Mora Jr., and all they stood for. Theirs are the names that matter.

 

[Walter Brasch is a social issues columnist and author. His next book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at amazon.com and other stores after June 20. For more details, see YouTube.]

 

 

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