US Troops And Veterans Think We've Been In Iraq And Afghanistan For Too Damn Long

Bullet Points

In news that will shock no one, service members and veterans are less than thrilled that the United States is still embroiled in conflicts — or "advise and assist" missions, to use Pentagon parlance — in Iraq and Afghanistan.


This nugget of insight comes from a survey conducted last Veterans Day, in which current and former service members were asked to respond to questions about national security policy and the current state of the military. The results of the poll were published this month by Smithsonian Magazine.

  • The majority of respondents (84 percent) said they agreed that the "current occupation" of Iraq and Afghanistan "has been going on too long."
  • For anyone who's bitched about the "forever" part of our forever wars, the survey offers some comfort: At least you know you're not alone, though it makes some sense if you felt like you were. As Smithsonian Magazine notes, "as far as we know, this survey was the first one to pose that question to current and former service members."
  • A little more surprising though, is that a lot of those same folks (83 percent) still support the ongoing War on Terror, even as it drags on into its seventeenth year.
  • In terms of national security threats, just over a third of respondents cited "terrorist organizations" followed closely by "rival powers." Rogue nations and criminal organizations ranked lowest in terms of dangers to American security.
  • The poll was a joint effort by the Smithsonian, Stars and Stripes, and Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, which surveyed 922 veterans and 109 active duty military personnel.
  • The full results of the survey can be found on Smithsonian Magazine, as well as on Stars and Stripes, along with respondent's opinions on current military policies — from transgender personnel in the military, to whether or not American troops should be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks to Marines and guests during the Semper Fidelis Society of Boston Luncheon at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Nov. 12, 2018. Gen. Neller was the guest of honor and guest speaker. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Olivia G. Ortiz)

WASHINGTON — The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president's emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed "unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency."

In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment along the border that President Donald Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases.

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"Wherever ISIS exists, we will continue to pursue them with our partners and allies in the region," Charles Summers told reporters on Thursday at a Pentagon media event.

When asked if the fight to clear ISIS from Syria's Middle Euphrates River Valley has ended, Summers replied, "We continue to fight against ISIS wherever they may be."

He declined to elaborate.

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Either way, the result's going to be the same: John Wick is the only one walking away from that fight.

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Should your friend and humble Pentagon correspondent live for another 50 years, you can expect to read a Pentagon Run-Down in 2069 about how many U.S. troops President George P. Bush III plans to leave in Syria. (Assuming, of course, that Joe Biden doesn't run in 2068.)

That's because current President Donald Trump had vowed to pull all U.S. troops from Syria back in December, but since then has agreed to leave some U.S. service members there. The White House initially said about 200 U.S. troops would remain in Syria, but government officials have since pegged the number at several hundred.

Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that up to 1,000 U.S. troops could make up the residual force in Syria. The Pentagon pushed back on that story unusually hard, presumably because defense officials are terrified that Trump will think the military is trying to force him to commit more troops to Syria.

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A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber from the US Air Force Andersen Air Force Base in Guam performs a fly-over at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore February 14, 2012. (Reuters/Tim Chong)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Thursday complained that flights by U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers across the Baltic Sea near Russia's borders were creating tensions in the region, but Washington said they were needed to deter potential adversaries.

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