It's time to talk some more about what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what is not.
Soldiers, sailors, Marines and Special Operation Warriors are all dying and getting blown up, every damn day. Now, it is true that this is their job, they are all volunteers, and we are at war.
However, this war on terror, and especially the war in Iraq, have huge political and economic components. You know what? I do not see, smell or hear any politicians, or economic types sacrificing at all for this war — do you?
I am not suggesting — at least not in plain sight — that politicians, economists, experts in energy or labor, and legal experts (that would be lawyers) actually suffer bodily harm. I am strongly suggesting that they at least show up.
Right now, only soldiers are being assigned to combat. All other government employees get to volunteer to go to Iraq, and when they do go, they only have to stay for three to six months. Oh yeah, and they mostly stay in Baghdad, behind the walls of the Green Zone.
Our president has not demanded that the rest of his government, or Americans in general, sacrifice at all. We have been running this war cheaply, the easy way, without hardships — as a "life goes on" type of thing. Sure, send more soldiers, who cares? Call it a "surge." Support, reinforce, move forward — whatever term you like — but the bottom line is that it still only involves soldiers and few others.
Most of us have finally come to the same conclusions that our soldiers have won their war, but that Iraq is in a Civil War, facing a mounting insurgency, and that the only solution there is political, not military. So why they heck are we sending more soldiers? How about we let those soldiers who are there already do their jobs? How about we send legal experts — as there is no judiciary in Iraq? How about more police trainers — as that program is busted? How about some energy experts -- as the power is still more than "iffy" in Iraq? How about some banking experts from the Treasury Department — as there is no banking system in Iraq?
Sacrifice cannot just be about soldiers’ lives and limbs. We have been doing that longer in Iraq than we did in World War II. Sacrifice needs to be spread evenly around this great government and country. Maybe with some sacrifices, we all will figure out the right things to do in Iraq, help our soldiers help Iraq, and finally get them home.
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Colonel Hunt responded to your questions to this column:
"I saw a program on "Executive Outcomes" that demonstrated what a small group of elites could do when not interfered with. I did some checking and found that after being dissolved, the players MAY have become associated with "Northbridge Services Group." Are firms like this being engaged by the Iraqi government, and if not, why? It seems to be a no-brainer, but are the politics keeping professionals out of the solution?"— Jim
Col. Hunt: Jim, yes firms like this are being used, Blackwater and Triple Canopy are two excellent examples.
"I am confused with your thoughts. Do you think it is best to run and leave Iraq to their own? Is that not what happened last time and Saddam only went on a larger killing spree?" — Yolanda
Col. Hunt: I never said any of that. I want 70,000 back, close down 52 of the 55 bases, leave 50,000 or so in Iraq to support and train I do not want to abandon Iraq, but more Iraq soldiers need to pay the price that right now is being by U.S. soldiers.
"If we are to bring our troops home before the job is finished, I ask you, Col Hunt ... if not Iraq, where, when, and at what cost?" — Clete
Col. Hunt: Our soldiers did their job, they won — our politicians failed. Iraq is in chaos at best and in a Civil War at worse. We can kill them for the next ten years, but without political and economic action, it will not matter.
"So, you talk and talk and talk about how everything being done in Iraq is wrong but you offer no ideas or solutions going forward. Wait, I guess you did when you said "let's just get out of Iraq". That's it though? Why don't you post your ideas and thoughts on what should be done? Remember, you have to incorporate the entire globe, not just us. What are your solutions to terrorism? Where should we be fighting this battle? Please enlighten us all." — Doug
Col. Hunt: My ideas are martial law, arrest Sadr or kill him, prohibit all militias and redo police training since it has failed. I do not want to abandon Iraq, but what we are doing now does not work. Assign departments of labor, energy, justice etc. into Iraq to build the government, which has been said so many times.
"I am sure that during your military career, you where informed that it was important to win "the hearts and minds" of those that we are fighting for. Are we doing this in Iraq and Afghanistan? How can we win their hearts and minds, when the necessities of life are still in question?" — Richard
Col. Hunt: The Special Forces do this well, the rest of the military not so well. We are still living and working in Saddam’s Palaces for example – dumb, very dumb.
"If our military is allowed to actually go after the people who are leading and doing the slaughter, would that make a difference? Is it your opinion that if Al-Maliki refuses to put Sadr and his militia on the line, that we should withdraw our forces to Kuwait and start leaving Iraq to the tender mercies of Iran and Hezbollah?" — Nancy (Sammamish, WA)
Col. Hunt: Sadr is a symbol of Shia arrogance, he ordered the deaths of Americans in Najaf, two years ago and he controls a huge illegal army. Yes, we need to go after him and the Iraq governement needs to.
"I wish Col. Hunt would teach classes in Iraq/Afganistan War 101 on line. I dare say a high percentage of us don't understand the whys and wherefores of why the terrorists hate us. Col. Hunt is very understandable for the common people and it's difficult to trust our politicians working on their own greed. Could you offer some reasons as to why other countries, especially in the Mid East, hate us?" — Lainy (Oklahoma)
Col. Hunt: Maybe we should be electing different people into office?
Colonel David Hunt has over 29 years of military experience, including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Operations. You can read his complete bio here.