Have you heard pundits who say our all-volunteer military force is fighting a losing battle? Some insist that this administration is unnecessarily putting these brave men and women in harm’s way. Others say that what our military is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is not directly related to our safety here in the United States. I have heard this again and again.
This is not what you hear when you visit with the troops and our military commanders. Now that so many — in fact, practically all — have served multiple deployments, I believe them. I make it a point to visit with troops as often as I can. For me to report fairly, I believe I have to have the chance to speak one-on-one to soldiers and their families. In fact, on my show FOX Online, I raised the question of how many times the people behind Moveon.org, the group that is behind the advertisements questioning General David Petraeus’ judgment and patriotism, have actually met with troops or visited Iraq or Afghanistan.
Take the families for example. I spoke to Dana Lamberson, the wife of a beloved soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country … his life. When I visited Fort Campbell last week, Dana attended a ceremony to remember the fallen from the 101st Airborne and was the first, and frankly the most surprising one, to share her thoughts with me on the war we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dana could be bitter… she could be outspoken … basically as a civilian, she can state her opinion on the war anytime she wants. But her message to me was very clear; she asked that Americans be patient. She wants us to look back historically to any conflict we have been involved in militarily and understand that these complicated wars were not won overnight. She also wants us to appreciate our freedom and appreciate that it is our responsibility to help others achieve it.
Dana is raising two beautiful children. Her daughter, just 14, has set up an amazing Web site so all of us can know her Dad and their story.
Lt. Jabari White echoed Dana’s message. Hit by an IED in Iraq in 2006, severely burned and wounded, he has chosen to stay in the military despite the ability to leave this fight for freedom behind. He told me if he did retire after a long process of healing, he’d have let the terrorists win, believing strongly it is his decision alone when and if he puts his military career, now turning to military intelligence, behind. A father of a toddler, leaving his unit would have been the least risky way to go. But not for Jabari. He’s in this mission for us and agrees bringing freedom to other parts of the world, whatever that definition of freedom turns out to be, will keep he and his family safer.
Fort Campbell Kentucky is the home of the “Screaming Eagles,” the legendary 101st Airborne. The division commander, Maj. General Jeffrey Schloesser and Col. Mark Milley explained to me and my producer Kathleen Foster in-depth just how complicated this mission is. I think like many of us non-military folks I didn’t fully realize how deeply rooted the beliefs of the people in Afghanistan and Iraq are and how cautious they will be to change. Both of these seasoned military commanders told me it is for people there to determine what their new life will look like. The complication comes with convincing them they have a right to a better life … to vote … to make choices … after so many years of oppression. Right now, a large part of our military operation going forward is to be on the ground meeting one-on-one with tribal and community leaders. It is not, Col. Milley and Maj. General Schloesser told us, just about killing the bad guys.
To really understand what our military is capable of, you have to put yourself in their position. Not only do they leave their families for long stretches but spend weeks and months here undergoing intense training. I don't know if Moveon.org spoke to the troops or not, but I did see firsthand the dedication and commitment our troops have to our country.
There are critics who say the military has reduced their standards … taking recruits who wouldn’t normally make the grade. This weekend I’ll show you what it takes to join the Air Assault division of the 101st Airborne. Does this news anchor have what it takes? I’m posting some photos to give you a hint, but you will have to watch the show, FOX Online with Jamie Colby, this weekend at 2 p.m. eastern to see!
Jamie Colby joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in July 2003 and currently serves as a news correspondent and anchor of "FOX Online" on Saturdays and Sundays (2 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET). She anchored coverage of the passing of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI from Rome. You can read her complete bio here.