Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Sending youth to war

While Tom Ricks is away from his blog, he has selected a few of his favorite posts to re-run. We will be posting a few every day until he returns. This originally ran on December 1, 2009. David Wood captures the heartbreak of sending to war young men who only recently were boys: I sometimes ...

John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

While Tom Ricks is away from his blog, he has selected a few of his favorite posts to re-run. We will be posting a few every day until he returns. This originally ran on December 1, 2009.

David Wood captures the heartbreak of sending to war young men who only recently were boys:

I sometimes forget how young they are. A few years ago, I was lazing in the dust with a bunch of Marines during a break in training. Already combat veterans, they were about to deploy back to Iraq. They'd been practicing getting ambushed and killing the ambushers, and now they were chatting about computer games.

While Tom Ricks is away from his blog, he has selected a few of his favorite posts to re-run. We will be posting a few every day until he returns. This originally ran on December 1, 2009.

David Wood captures the heartbreak of sending to war young men who only recently were boys:

I sometimes forget how young they are. A few years ago, I was lazing in the dust with a bunch of Marines during a break in training. Already combat veterans, they were about to deploy back to Iraq. They’d been practicing getting ambushed and killing the ambushers, and now they were chatting about computer games.

"Hey, did’ja ever get ‘Gears of War’?" asked Louis Duran, 19.

"Nah, I was gonna," said his buddy, Steven Aspling, 20, "but my mom wouldn’t let me."  

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

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.