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Friday, October 23, 2009


From today's Stars and Stripes: U.S. forces struggle with Washington’s perceptions and reality in Afghanistan:

“The rules of engagement here have been very frustrating,” said Capt. Tammy Lanning. As the intelligence officer for the 4th Battalion, 25th Artillery Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade operating in Wardak, she must fight a daily battle to keep detained bombing suspects from being released back onto the streets.
“Guys back in Washington need to get, I think, a better operational understanding, [of] what goes on here,” she said. “To separate the enemy from the population to make progress will take a really long time, and the administration really needs to understand that. Even more than in Iraq, to get to the point where they … they can build a government — which they can’t do now — [and] get rid of corruption, is going to take years.”
If the U.S. is not in this fight for the long haul, she added, “you may as well not waste the effort and not kill any more soldiers.”

It would help, too, if the American people were more tuned in to what's happening on the ground in Afghanistan. When we do hear about Afghanistan on the news, it seems to focus much more on the political than on what the troops are going through. What the troops are going through is war. Political is not war. Political is useful, but it's surely not enough.

The American people are not getting the full message of what this war is and what is happening over there. Occasionally, we'll get some "news" personality proudly standing in front of a Humvee with a microphone clipped to his Army issued flack jacket reporting from "inside the wire." But, that's not the same as those dark and grainy satellite images we got on our black and white TVs of fighting (and the sounds of pop pop pop of machine guns) from behind the 17th Parallel in the late 60s and early 70s. I think when you saw those images and heard those sounds, whether you were for it or against it, you knew what war is.

I hate to say this, because I'm sure it will be taken the wrong way, but the way the American public has been shown Afghanistan, one might think Afghanistan has been painless. Well, compared to Vietnam, anyway.

Of course, this lack of facts and images and sounds can't be put solely on the media. The Defense Department, for whatever reason -- to shield us from the blood and guts or to keep us ignorant -- shares the bulk of the blame for keeping us in the dark.

But, I don't want to be pointing fingers here. I just want them to do their jobs. Stop shielding us from the realities. Put it in our faces, everyday, every night. When the people have a better grasp of what's going on, then I believe the president and congress will know what to do.

One more time, the article: U.S. forces struggle with Washington’s perceptions and reality in Afghanistan. Read the whole thing. There's a lot more there.

Posted by Marie at October 23, 2009 3:31 PM


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