Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Congress Needs To Take Back Responsibility For Sending Troops To Conflict Zones
On May 19, 2004, anti-coalition forces attacked a U.S. military convoy on the northern outskirts of Samarra, Iraq — a routine resupply mission my platoon made at least twice a week. Those of us back on Forward Operating Base Mackenzie quickly learned we had a KIA, but we didn’t know who. We waited in silence, wondering which one of our friends would not be coming back. Eventually, we saw the silhouette of our platoon sergeant trudging toward us across the loose gravel between the tactical operations center and our platoon that slowed all movement. He knew the name. As he got closer, we could see the tears streaming down his face. “Campbell” was all he said. Michael Campbell, a real cowboy who the year before shared Christmas dinner with my family, died that day.
I always go back to this memory of the first time I faced the loss of a soldier when I hear a service member has died overseas: The ultimate sacrifice made for all Americans regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, or even political party. Soldiers don’t serve one political party. Enemy bullets do not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans. Soldiers defend all Americans.
Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Company B, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment move into a house to search for weapons and anti-Iraqi forces during operations in the western Ninevah Province City of Tall Afar during the early morning hours of Aug. 1, 2004.DoD photo
Unfortunately, both Democrats and Republicans have turned the tragic deaths of Sgt. La David Johnson and his three comrades who were killed in Niger on Oct. 4 into a political statement that cheapens their sacrifice. Instead, everyone seems focused on what was said during a condolence phone call to a grieving wife and claiming they had no idea we even had thousands of troops in Africa. It’s easy to make angry accusations and feign ignorance, but ultimately the presence of U.S. troops in Niger was public knowledge; many politicians just weren’t paying attention.
For too long, Congress has been more than happy to defer responsibility for troop deployments to the president and Department of Defense, shielding itself with the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which authorized the president to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the [9/11 terror attacks],” and use “necessary and appropriate force” to “prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
But it’s been 16 years. Rather than argue over the politicization of soldier deaths, politicians should look at the conditions and reasoning behind the deployments. Bin Laden is dead. Saddam Hussein is dead. It’s time for Congress to assess the current strategy and determine whether it remains in America’s interest to expand the forever wars. All soldiers know the risk when they take the oath, but they also put their trust in the American public and their elected officials to properly debate the risks and wisely send them into harm’s way.
A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant speaks to a group of Nigerien soldiers prior to the start of a buddy team movement class during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017.
Each time I deployed, I knew the reason. In Kosovo, I deployed to prevent ethnic cleansing. I delivered ballots in 2005 for the first free Iraqi elections. In Afghanistan, two years later, I fought the Taliban and worked to strengthen Afghan governance. These were goals I understood. Congress authorized those military operations.
By not acting, policy-makers avoid the responsibility of soldiers’ deaths and can simultaneously place the blame on the president by seeming outraged. The decision to send troops to their deaths is not an easy one to make. I understand why Congress shies away from it, but that doesn’t make it right. It is their responsibility. The AUMF needs to be updated. Congress must have their say. Our troops and their families deserve it.
Nearly a decade after he allegedly murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian during a 2010 deployment, the case of Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is finally going to trial.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The Taliban have sent a delegation to Russia to discuss prospects for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan following the collapse of talks with the United States this month, officials from the insurgent group said.
The move, days after President Donald Trump canceled a planned meeting with Taliban leaders at his Camp David retreat, came as the movement looks to bolster regional support, with visits also planned for China, Iran and Central Asian states.
We salute the foul-mouthed Navy vet remembered as 'the most inappropriate guy with the biggest heart'
Per his final demands, Joe Heller was laid in his casket Thursday in a T-shirt featuring the Disney dwarf Grumpy and the middle finger of his right hand extended. He also told his daughters to make sure and place a remote control fart machine in the coffin with him.
"My father always wanted the last laugh," daughter Monique Heller said.
The Essex volunteer firefighter and self-described local "dawg kecher" died on Sept. 8 at age 82, and the off-color obituary written by his youngest daughter has become a nationwide sensation — a lead item on cable news sites, a top story on The Courant's website and a post shared far and wide on social media.
Laced with bawdy humor, the irreverent but loving obit captured Heller's highly inappropriate nature and his golden heart, friends who filled the fire station for a celebration of his life on Thursday evening said.
A 19-year-old man who planned a July mass shooting at a West Lubbock hotel that was thwarted by his grandmother was upset that he was considered "defective" by the military when he was discharged for his mental illness, according to court records.
William Patrick Williams faces federal charges for reportedly lying on an application to buy the semiautomatic rifle he planned to use in a shooting, according to a federal indictment filed Aug. 14.
He is charged with a federal felony count of making a false material statement during the purchase of a firearm on July 11, a day before he planned to lure people out of a hotel and shoot them. The charge carries a punishment of up to five years in prison.
Reuters) - Hamza bin Laden, a son of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and himself a notable figure in the militant group, was killed in a U.S. counter-terrorism operation, the White House said on Saturday.