Military and the “Human” Factor

“I support the troops, I don’t support the war” has become an all too common montage.

Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other. It’s such an oxymoron and yet understandable. But truthfully, I only say that to seem reasonable. Inside, I’d like to tear those two phrases apart.

Internet, 24 hour News stations…we have an inside look at the war. Yet, this hasn’t seemed to change the attitude, except for the ones reporting it and the people who have supported the effort all along.

Jeff Emanuel has a piece in The American today about the “PR war in Iraq”.

Journalists embedded with combat units is a product of this war.

Tom Gjelten of NPR said

“We were offered an irresistible opportunity: free transportation to the front line of the war, dramatic pictures, dramatic sounds, great quotes, Who can pass that up?”

But the real prize ended up being an acknowledgement of the “Human” Factor.

Journalists aren’t just reporting, they are getting to know the sons and daughters of America’s military.

 When you watch TV, you see uniforms, maybe a name tape and just maybe you can distinguish which service they are in. You have no idea that, like you, they have son’s or daughter’s too, a wife or husband, Mom’s and Dad’s worried sick, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

But unlike you, their job is their life. A soldier, Airman, Seaman or Marine is not just a job title. It’s everything they are; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Many journalists have come away with a completely different view then before they embedded.

While I was at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in Baghdad on my recent trip to Iraq, a pair of Spanish journalists — a newspaper reporter and a photojournalist — walked in, fresh from their embed with the 1-4 Cavalry of the 1st Infantry Division (the unit with which I embedded only days later). They had spent two weeks amongst the troops there, living and going on missions with them, including house-to-house searches and seizures, and their impressions of these soldiers were extremely clear.

“Absolutely amazing,” said David Beriain, the reporter (and the one who spoke English), said of the young Cavalry troops. “In Spain, it is embarrassing — our soldiers are ashamed to be in the army. These young men — and they seem so young! — are so proud of what they do, and do it so well, even though it is dangerous and they could very easily be killed.” Beriain explained that the company he had been embedded with had lost three men in the span of six days while he was there — one to a sniper and two to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), both of which had blown armored Humvees into the air and flipped them onto their roofs. Despite this, he said, and despite some of the things which they might have said in the heat of the moment after seeing another comrade die, the soldiers’ resolve and morale was unshaken in the long term, and they remained committed to carrying out their mission to the best of their ability for the duration of their tours in Iraq.

Berain goes on to say :

“I love those guys,” Beriain said, looking wistfully out the window of the media cloister in the Green Zone that is CPIC. “From the first time you go kick a door with them, they accept you — you’re one of them. I’ve even got a ‘family photo’ with them” to remember them by. “I really hated to leave.”

Fascinating that such a transformation can happen isn’t it?

Maybe you don’t agree with the war and there are troops that feel the same way.

But there are many more who believe in what they are doing.

Because I’m stationed in Germany, I see a lot of troops coming and going from Iraq and Afghanistan. When they are wounded, they usually head to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, about 20 klicks from my front door. AAFES provides $250 clothing vouchers to every troop who comes in. Most only have the clothes on their back and their ID. I have personally, while working at AAFES, helped well over 200 troops with their vouchers. This is a small number relative to the amount of troops serving. But I can tell you that I asked every single one the same question, “Do you want to go back?” 1 out of 10 said No.

Their reasons may not always be the “effort”, it may be the men they left behind. Nevertheless, go back, is what they want to do.

Read the article. And before judging everything that’s going on, listen to the guys who are over there. Get a well rounded view of what they are really trying to do.

I want us to succeed. I want us to help fix a broken country. What’s wrong with that?

Forget the reasons we said we went in, We are there can’t change the past. You have to look forward, learn and teach.

There are a lot more positive outcomes then negative if we Win.

The Troops.


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