America, despite a bulging population of almost 300 million has rotated only 1.5 million troops through Iraq and Afghanistan, many for multiple tours of duty. Never, in the history of this country, have so few fought for so many. The lighter, faster, deadlier Pentagon doctrine as envisioned by the current administration has failed not only the people of Iraq but exhausted our men and women on the ground and has no doubt contributed to the horrors of events like Haditha and Ishaqi.
Though a fierce opponent of war and of the Iraq invasion, in particular, as the mother of a Marine and Iraq veteran, I try always to separate the war from the warrior. We, the citizens of this country have placed our troops in an untenable situation that will see some of our finest young people transformed into war criminals. Confusing our troops with US foreign policy would undermine the seriousness of the predicament we have placed them in and blur our part in leaving them there to face it undermanned, underequipped and ill-guided.
“The most dangerous thing in the world is a teenager with a rifle.” That thought, expressed by a platoon sargeant in Vietnam 30 years ago, is just as true today. Compounding their youth with physical and mental exhaustion, fear and adrenalin is a recipe for heartbreaking events that see the murder of Iraqi children by US forces.
Our troops desperately need more from the 300 million people they are fighting for than magnets on cars. They need us to advocate on their behalf by demanding our representatives do their jobs. Congress needs to define a working plan and an exit strategy. They must insure that the troops have sufficient equipment and body armor and man power or they need to bring them home. To date they have failed miserably to address the quagmire that is Iraq.
Several organizations also work to provide assistance for our troops. Teambio.org is one where you can buy stickers and t-shirts and all proceeds go to supplying body armor. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (iava.org) is an advocacy group for veterans to name another. Most importantly, raise your voice to Congress. We the masses owe it to the handful of people we have allowed to put their lives on the line for us.