CPT John Tribe, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT)
Thursday, Sept 17th, 2009
The September 11, 2001 attacks galvanized the United States, especially the United States Army. We were attacked and young people across this nation answered the call to arms. The Army was riding high on a wave of support that may never be seen again. Into Afghanistan to avenge the attacks on September 11, 2001 and to free a millions of people who have been oppressed, sound familiar? Then came March 19, 2003 and the war with Iraq. For a very brief moment I wondered why we needed to go to war with Iraq, but only for a brief moment. President George Bush and Sean Hannity said Saddam Hussein was a war criminal, and the Iraqi people needed freedom. I knew they were right; yes it had to be done.
4 years after mission accomplished, I landed in Iraq to defeat the terrorists. Upon gaining my bearings a troubling question stayed at the forefront of my mind. I had no answer to offer my platoon, and my chain of command had no answer to offer me. How do you tell the difference between the terrorists and the civilians? How do you tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shia? My years of training had failed to adequately prepare me for this.
Upon returning home the Army was in the midst of a huge suicidal awareness campaign, due to a dramatic rise in the suicides. In 2007 115 confirmed suicides, 2008 128 confirmed suicides, halfway through 2009 58 confirmed and 34 pending investigation (AFP July 9, 2009). I happened to be at the epicenter, Fort Campbell Kentucky. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) is the most famous and powerful Army Division in the history of the world. There has never been a challenge on the battle field too great for the Screaming Eagles. Off the battle field is a different question. The A.C.E. campaign (Ask Care Escort) was in full effect. The entire focus of why soldiers were committing suicide was concentrated on combat stress, long deployments and the effects of war. I felt at the time and still do to this day; the Army missed the mark.
Soldiers are not stressed out, we never get tired and we never quit. We were lied to, and our government failed us. Once the truth was revealed that Saddam Hussein did not posses weapons of mass destruction, our campaign for freedom became an invasion and occupation. We lost the morale high ground. The only people I know that invade sovereign countries are Nazi’s and Commies. More and more soldiers are realizing that everything we were told was a lie. We have spent years risking our lives over a lie; lives have been lost, fortunes squandered and in the end we are left with nothing. Years of soldiers lives have been wasted, during which children were born, took first steps, started dating, graduated high school and even got married. Soldiers missed these moments with no chance of recovering the lost time.
Change you can believe in is here, yet it still feels the same. Whole Brigade Combat Teams are still deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Democrats and anti-war crowd seems to have taken a vacation, and after 8 years of fighting nothing seems to have changed. The citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan are still poor, their governments are still corrupt, soldiers are still dying and still no exit strategy.
After all the dust has settled and the history books have been written, soldiers don’t care about wins and losses, glory or medals; they care that their sacrifice was not in vain, that the cause was just, liberty was preserved and above all America maintained the morale high ground. Unfortunately those that do not remember history are doomed to repeat it, and the politicians of today have failed my generation of soldiers, just like 40 years ago they failed a past generation of brave American soldiers in another country far to the east.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 3:58 am