We Screwed This One Up Big Time

by James Glaser
July 1, 2003

Everyone asked about an Exit Strategy for our troops in Iraq, but no one came up with one. "As long as we have to and not one day more," is now a sick joke, but the troops are not laughing. Washington's refusal to listen to the experience of the Generals in charge has caused many Americans to lose their lives while the Department of Defense wonders what to do now.

It was reported on Monday that in one division in Iraq, the 3rd Infantry, an average of eighteen men a day are requesting help from their mental health unit for anxiety and combat stress. These troops gave their all and took Iraq in record time and then there unit was extended for peacekeeping duty.

One thing you learn in the military is that everyone has their area of expertise and that is the job that you train for over and over again to become proficient. When your unit is given a job that doesn't fit your job description, stress develops and people start getting killed.

The American combat troops in Iraq were trained to kill and now the rules have changed and those you were supposed to kill are now the people you are supposed to help. Some soldiers can't sleep and some can't eat. Unlike other wars, these men and women have no idea of when they will go home. Nobody can count down to that day they will leave, because no one knows when that will be. Some soldiers now state that nobody cares about anything. Soldiers need a goal to focus on and these troops thought that goal was capturing Baghdad. Having their unit extended for peacekeeping duty was not part of the plan and these troops want Washington to get them home.

Some soldiers haven't bathed in a month and many are in their fourth or fifth month of working sixteen or more hours a day with no place to relax as they are living in a war zone. Every day some American is getting killed and others wounded and this toll weighs on the troops.

Families at home are under the same stress of not knowing when or if, their loved one will come home. Every family was so sure that their soldier would be coming home after the President said that the mission was accomplished. Not knowing now, when their soldier will come home is what is so hard and telling the kids you don't know is not an answer they can understand.

Every American mouths the words, Support the Troops, but we sit by and watch as more lose their lives every day and others suffer from mental wounds that they will keep forever. Washington screwed up big time, because they have no plan. We screwed up too, because we didn't demand one. There are no troops on their way to Iraq to relieve those still there.

No one can tell us what is going to happen and those in the field only have us to look out for them. Write your Senator and Representative and ask them to help out our troops by either bringing them all home or rotating them back, by sending troops trained in peacekeeping. I would ask you to call or write the President too, but I do not believe he even cares.

Think about if you were the Commander in Chief and you had a hundred and fifty thousand troops in the field. You know one is getting killed every day and some wounded. You know better than anyone else that you have no plan for getting them home. If that was you and you were responsible for the lives of this American Army, would you be out fund raising?

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