Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) consists of families with loved ones who have or are currently serving in Iraq. MFSO is often mistakenly believed to be an anti-war organization yet many members are third and fourth generation military with a proud tradition in the ideals of serving their country and are deeply entrenched in military culture, dedicated to protecting their country and first and foremost, defending the constitution.
Now 3,400 families strong, MFSO arose a few months prior to the invasion of Iraq out of concern that their loved ones dedication and sacrifice were being misused. Families questioned the legality of invading a sovereign country, claims that Iraq was an imminent threat, and feared involvement put their loved ones at risk of violating that first oath to the constitution, committing war crimes or both.
Like any organization, MFSO has suffered growing pains with huge rifts formed over issues like whether the organization should support conscientious objectors or what policy to take regarding military recruiting. The single uniting issue is that our military, our loved ones, should never have been deployed to Iraq and we need to bring our troops home at all cost.
Recent revelations that intelligence claiming Saddam Hussein was a threat were deliberately, not just mistakenly, presented to the American people to incite a build up to war have deepened the resolve of MFSO and other groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). These are our loved ones and our friends being sacrificed and misused and the sanctity of their oath defiled by deliberate factual manipulations and forgeries and we stand united to bring them home and take care of them when they get here.
Now another rift has formed splitting MFSO down the middle regarding the continued deployment and occupation of Afghanistan. MFSO has in general accepted that like World War II, Afghanistan was ‘the good war’. Lt Ehren Watada, the first officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq believing to do so would violate his first oath to the constitution, pleaded with his superiors to change his orders to Afghanistan so he could serve his country legally.
Our military completed their mission in Afghanistan. The Taliban were effectively run off, allowed to escape along with al Qaeda to Pakistan by our leaders, leaving our military in Afghanistan without a mission. MFSO members agree that a clear mission must be defined to honor their courage and show respect to the military serving in Afghanistan if they are to stay. Anything less is an immoral disregard for their safety.
The issue of Afghanistan has arisen again, in part because Senator Obama has suggested pulling our troops out of Iraq and refocusing upon the resurgent Taliban. Oregon MFSO, of which I am active, is amongst those chapters calling for the return of our troops, in particular our citizen soldiers, from Afghanistan.
We believe that the presence of American forces in Afghanistan depletes the already limited resources of our military and National Guard, subjects the men and women of our armed forces to unnecessary, severe attacks and serves as a recruiting tool for terrorist organizations. We believe that the continued occupation of Afghanistan threatens our national security, weakens our ability to respond to legitimate provocations and attacks and dishonors the brave service of our American forces in Afghanistan.
Oregon MFSO, IVAW and Veterans for Peace, with whom I proudly stand every Wednesday to remind people that we are at war and soldiers are dying, oppose putting more troops in harm’s way and call for a phased withdrawal of all forces in Afghanistan.