Jason Dempsey served 22 years as an infantry officer in the US Army, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and is the author of "Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations." He is an adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and writes on the military's failures in Afghanistan and issues of civil-military relations.
Sixteen years. It has now been over 16 years since the United States began military operations in Afghanistan. At the beginning of those operations, as I watched friends deploy to the initial fighting, I would have found the idea that I would deploy there at the beginning of a massive buildup of American troops in 2009, or that we would still be there in 2017, inconceivable. But like Vizzini, the evil mastermind and kidnapper from Princess Bride, I had a lot to learn about the meaning of “inconceivable.”
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Editor’s Note: This is the first edition of a new Task & Purpose column called “Swamp Warfare,” in which Jason Dempsey and other thought leaders examine the growing intersection of military, politics, and policy in the United States.