Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

A Gold Star father speaks

I was away most of the weekend at a wedding, where in fact I ran into Blake Hall, who has appeared in this blog, and came home to see this comment posted in response to my most recent post on Wanat. I have a lot of time for this father: You all who write here ...

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr.com
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr.com
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr.com

I was away most of the weekend at a wedding, where in fact I ran into Blake Hall, who has appeared in this blog, and came home to see this comment posted in response to my most recent post on Wanat. I have a lot of time for this father:

You all who write here present as professionals. You all present as wizened participants somewhere, some place in this conversation, regardless of your positions. I have read all of these presentations by TR on the subject of Wanat and I see many passionate view points. May I present mine.

I was, in a past time, a Marine officer. By the nature of the Corps, we were all taught to think and believe as grunts. We all worked our jobs around the "18 year old PFC with the rifle" on the ground. As it was, I was an aviator. My son was a Corporal. He was killed in action in a gunfight in Iraq in 2005. Some shitty little ville on the banks of the Euphrates that needed to be cleared, part of a larger operation to stop the eastern flow of bad guys and material out of Syria. There weren't enough people to do the job in 2005. The borders were never secured in 2003. It was just a continuing series of operations and stop gap crap that was indicative of the whole operation since the inception of OIF.

I was away most of the weekend at a wedding, where in fact I ran into Blake Hall, who has appeared in this blog, and came home to see this comment posted in response to my most recent post on Wanat. I have a lot of time for this father:

You all who write here present as professionals. You all present as wizened participants somewhere, some place in this conversation, regardless of your positions. I have read all of these presentations by TR on the subject of Wanat and I see many passionate view points. May I present mine.

I was, in a past time, a Marine officer. By the nature of the Corps, we were all taught to think and believe as grunts. We all worked our jobs around the "18 year old PFC with the rifle" on the ground. As it was, I was an aviator. My son was a Corporal. He was killed in action in a gunfight in Iraq in 2005. Some shitty little ville on the banks of the Euphrates that needed to be cleared, part of a larger operation to stop the eastern flow of bad guys and material out of Syria. There weren’t enough people to do the job in 2005. The borders were never secured in 2003. It was just a continuing series of operations and stop gap crap that was indicative of the whole operation since the inception of OIF.

Friends, we shit the bed from the start, both in Iraq and OEF. Planning and execution was erratic, spotty, piss-poor, political choked and all kinds of other negatives that one could call it, from the beginning.

In the consequence, we lost far too many people doing operations that either should never have been started (Iraq) or should have been completed years ago — as far as the armed forces of the USA is concerned.

Wanat is but a symbol of every damn thing gone wrong. Arguing about the outcome and who should or should not be held accountable is almost a moot point. Yes, believe me, none of us can bring back those lost. No one can fully rectify an operation that went so terribly lost. Will the Army (and all other fighting services) learn from this, or will this be a continuation of the division that is rapidly ripping apart the country and the military?

Those of you who are active duty and read this: please rescue the institutions that you represent–the uniform that you wear. I personally witnessed the demise of the U.S. military in the ’70s after Vietnam and it wasn’t pretty. If you all have allegiance to your Service, and the USA, please fix the damn details. Plan to either stay professionally and with a positive purpose or work to retrograde our forces,

My personal plea is to get us out of Moslem lands. 18 year old American gunmen walking those lands is too far stupid. And I’m sick and fu**in’ tired of attending funerals."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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