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I remember reading George C. Herring’s book “America’s Longest War” when I was studying history as an undergrad and couldn’t wrap my head around how the conflict in Vietnam could have gone on as long as it did. I naively assured myself that despite how horrific the toll of that war was, at least we had learned from our mistakes and would never let that happen again. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Today, Oct. 7, marks the 15th anniversary of combat operations in Afghanistan, which is now our longest war to date, and other than a select few who bear the brunt of this burden, most people will see #WorldSmileDay trending on Twitter today and not think twice about this somber and embarrassing anniversary. Nothing could be more insulting to the troops currently serving.
I used to empathize with the public in previous years for not paying attention to the war in Afghanistan because there were so many other things going on: the war in Iraq, the worst recession since the Great Depression, threats of climate change, and myriad other things that dominate headlines. Those days are gone, however, and the empathy has run out. It’s now time to quantify what another year in combat means to the brave women and men still serving in Afghanistan and stop neglecting our New Greatest Generation of warfighters.
So what is another year in combat? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you ask the spouse of someone serving, it’s yet another increase in your chances of developing a mental-health problem — a topic largely ignored. If you are the child of someone serving, it’s celebrating another birthday or holiday worrying about your mom or dad overseas. And if you were one of the brave citizens who decided to make the military a career after the Sept. 11 attacks, you are one of the few people who have served on an unprecedented number of deployments, a toll that no other generation of warfighters has ever known.
This burden falls cruelly on a disproportionate number of citizens —- something we’ve never asked such small number of people to endure. And how do we repay these service members and their families? By neglecting them and the issues that affect them. We do live in a post-9/11 world, though, as the years pass, that seems to hold less weight. Some would argue that this is the price we pay for keeping our country safe. However, the literal “price” paid is something that needs to be addressed immediately.
Why are we spending $43 million dollars on a gas station or $335 million on an electric plant in Afghanistan that nobody is using when the brave women who return from Afghanistan don’t have the quality care they deserve? How did a war that was originally sold to us for a cost of “something under $50 billion” turn into a $6 trillion fiasco? Is this the best way to spend trillions of dollars, especially when just $30 billion could be used to solve the world’s food crisis? I’d like to have that discussion, but it’s nearly impossible when an apathetic attitude toward this war permeates our national dialogue. If it’s not about Trump and Clinton’s latest scandal, then no one is interested.
I could go on for ages about how disappointed I am in our country’s leaders for allowing this to happen, and still haven’t even discussed the mental health problems emerging from modern drone warfare, the moral injuries caused by having friends deploy without you, the objective risks of blowback from our policies in the region, or the psychological toll our actions in Afghanistan must take on the innocent civilians there, but am afraid that these complaints will fall on deaf ears.
We went into Afghanistan as a direct response for the attacks on 9/11, but considering far too many Americans have forgotten the event we said we never would, it’s all too likely that they will continue to forget about the war it started.
I, on the other hand, will continue to serve my fellow veterans when they return home and will do whatever I can to shed light on the individual acts of courage they continue to display for a country that has, for the most part, forgotten about them.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.