Monday, March 23, 2009

Please come home safely Chris

I awoke this morning and began my normal routine of putting on a pot of coffee and scanning through the various dailies that I receive via the Internet. However, this morning I didn’t have to look any further than my homepage which consists of links to stories reported by MSNBC News. The story that caught my attention today was the planned change in direction our military is expected to undergo in Afghanistan. My focus there has become very personal for me; something I will elaborate on later in the article. The title of the article I read was entitled Obama wants exit plan strategy and was reported by the Associated Press. Much of the story derives from President Obama’s interview on 60 Minutes last evening which I watched.

In an attempt to summarize to be able to get to the real reason for my article; I will briefly outline the President’s plan. This is a plan he intends to implement over the next 3-5 years. We have already heard of his intention to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. A decision he states to be the hardest one he has been forced to make in his brief term as President. Part of the plan that we are privy to is the heightening of our engagements (such a proper term) with the insurgents and the provision for additional bases deeper into Afghanistan to better equip us to fight the Taliban. Obama’s goals are to prevent the insurgents from overthrowing an already weak central government and providing the Afghan National Security Force with ample training and resources to better defend themselves. Geez-where have we heard that one lately? Obama went on to explain that Afghanistan is a much more difficult environment to fight in than Iraq; clearly overstating the obvious. He referred to the terrain, infrastructure, and education of the people as stumbling blocks in our pursuit of the Taliban. Perhaps a look at the results the former Soviet Union had in Afghanistan would have been a good place to start in understanding the “terrain” and the ” people.”

The parallels are frightening; both from a military standpoint and an ideological one. While our initial reasons for intervention differ, the difficulties are the same. The Soviets first invaded in December of 1979 with the expressed purpose of preventing the Russian backed government from being overthrown by the mujahideen resistance. Our initial purpose was to hunt the Taliban in an effort to prevent further attacks on our country. Contrary to many pundits; I still maintain that this was both justified and necessary. Unfortunately, our results to date are less than encouraging. The Soviet’s goal was to impose their social and economic practices on the Afghan people. It is ignorant to think that while we are pursuing the Taliban; that we are not attempting to impose our democratic ideals on the Afghans as well. Another glaring similarity is the fact that neither of us anticipated the level of resistance we have encountered. Couple that with our lack of training in mountainous combat and you have a lethal combination. Something the Soviets discovered in their 9+ years of futile attempts at accomplishing their mission. For more on the Soviet failure, go to

As I alluded to earlier; Afghanistan and our decision to deploy 17,000 more troops has hit home with me, as it has with thousands of others. I spent some time with a dear friend last week and he informed me that his youngest child had just received his deployment orders to Afghanistan. Though unquestionably a man now; I can’t help but flash back to holding him in my arms while babysitting for my friend and his wife. He is a graduate of Brown University (Ivy League), a former All-American soccer player and distance runner, and an officer in the United States Marine Corps-a patriot in every sense of the word. His grandfather was also a college graduate (Georgetown) and a Marine Corps officer and I can only imagine the pride he would have felt if he were still with us. Though my concern and worries are nowhere near those of his parents; I have still been unable to get him out of my mind. Amidst the persistent mudslinging and the questioning of our presence; we tend to lose sight of what truly matters and that is the safe return of our young men and women. For now, I would like everyone to focus their thoughts and prayers on the men and women who honor their pledge to defend our country. And I assure you Chris; you will be in my prayers every day until you return home safely. Thank you so much for being the person you are and the patriot you are. God bless every one of you.

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