Let me stress that what follows is a personal opinion. It is an informed opinion based on experience, but an opinion nonetheless. I spent two tours in Vietnam and am a retired U.S. Army officer.
Our system has strict civilian control over the military and that is a good thing. If politicians have no military experience, they should decide what they want the military mission to be and ask the military officials if they have the resources to do it. If the answer is yes, then issue the order and get out of the way. If the military changes the mission they cannot then blame the civilians for not increasing the support level.
Our effort in Afghanistan is a valiant effort on the part of our military. Their actions are more than heroic given their limited numbers, controlled by congress, and the restrictions placed on them. There are obvious parallels to Vietnam, and I would suggest it is not currently a winnable counterinsurgency:
1. We are fighting in support of a government that is not duly elected and is corrupt to its core. This government is not supported by the people, is tolerated as the lesser of two evils, and would not be tolerated were we not propping them up.
2. The people who are actually in harms way have extremely restrictive rules of engagement imposed on their operations, and our casualties are increasing as a result.
3. We are operating in an environment where the enemy is not distinguishable from the good guys. By the time you have met the rules of engagement criteria, they have melted into the population.
4. The tactics are constantly changing. One month we’re holding small enclaves, and the next we are pulling into larger installations. One month we’re running mobile operations, and the next we’re all dismounted. One month we’re killing Taliban, and the next month we’re “engaging with them.” Remember when we moved all the Vietnamese from their rural homes to big villages so we could protect them?
5. The enemy has a safe enclave and a line they can cross, but we can’t. Yes, we can occasionally send a drone over; but we cannot deny them the safe haven. Remember Cambodia and Laos?
6. The generals want more troops, but they see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then they come back and want more troops so that we will be successful. The cream of our military and our population keeps returning to us in body bags with little or no improvement in the situation.
7. Repeated deployments are affecting morale and putting stress on families. This has not been experienced since WWII, and this time the deployments include mothers of young children.
8. Lastly, I noted in the paper that the body count thing has started. The military is claiming that the enemy suffered 100 casualties during the recent attack that cost us 10 of our own. I’m sure, like in Vietnam, they didn’t actually see 100 bodies. Remember the body count reports from Southeast Asia on the nightly news?
I know there is little we as individuals can do, but we can speak up. Every time I see that weekly list scroll down the TV screen I remember all those vibrant young men who I once shared a beer with, or laughed at a joke with, or fought beside who are now just names on “The Wall.” These young men and women don’t even have a wall.
Charles E. Markham
I believe that as many construction companies as there are in Stephenville that one of them would repair the parking lot at HOPE. It is in horrendous shape and the store and clinic does a wonderful job for the needy in this community.
The store has bargains that anyone can take advantage of at wonderful prices. They have books, toys, shoes, clothes, bedding and dishes. If you haven’t checked it out, you should.
They really appreciate donations from citizens. The money is used to feed and heal those who can’t afford it. I hope someone can help repair the parking lot and deduct it off their taxes as a donation to charity.
I know they would appreciate it and everyone who goes to HOPE would appreciate it too.