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Crosstalk: Return to Iraq: Time for the draft?

by RaeLynn Ricarte

Oh hell no! If Americans want to put more boots on the ground in Iraq, then it’s time for a draft.

Let everyone’s sons and daughters come out to play in this political ping-pong game!

My son (five deployments) and so many others have “been there, done that” when it comes to Iraq. Military families make up less than 1 percent of the nation’s population and the level of apathy among the other 99 percent about what is happening with our post 9/11 veterans after almost 15 years of war is appalling.

All of the ground in Iraq that my son and others fought for and held — at the cost of thousands of lives — was handed to the Islamic State when President Barack Obama decided to pull our troops out before the native army was strong enough to hold the line.

Obama failed to listen to the warnings of military officials that a stabilizing force needed to be left behind and then gave the ridiculous justification that Iraqi leaders wouldn’t meet our terms so we had to leave.

The Afghanistan president made the same noise and we remain there because even the clueless man who sits in the White House didn’t dare risk a repeat of the debacle in Iraq. Instead, he just imposed rules of engagement that basically make it impossible for troops on the ground to get anything done and sometimes to even stay alive.

A recent Harvard Institute of Politics poll showcases my problem with this whole mess.

Sixty percent of Millennials — respondents ages 18 to 29 — said they supported committing more troops to the fight against IS, but 62 percent said they didn’t want to join the fight.

How immoral is that? Military families are exhausted and struggling to cope with the aftermath of combat.

Last week, I got a call from my adopted Marine daughter and she was grieving the loss of a third member of her unit to suicide since November.

Twenty-two veterans a day take their own lives because they can’t cope with what they’ve seen and done in the name of national defense. They volunteered to defend this country to ensure that another terrorist attack did not occur on our soil – remember the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11?

Instead, their lives were totally discounted as politicians made them pawns in the re-election chess game.

And that nonsense continues.

As an example, Obama has stated over and over that the almost 4,000 Marines and special operators now in Iraq are not “combat troops” but “advisors.” My son was an advisor. These men are elite warriors in full combat mode at all times.

It is easy to commit someone else’s child to war. Maybe if every family had the same risk, they’d care more about what was going on with our troops and veterans. Maybe they’d realize how psychologically important it is to let our warrior class achieve their mission and claim the victory.

That, at least, makes all of the blood, sweat and tears endurable.

by Mark Gibson

When I turned 18 I drove to town, parked by the local pharmacy and walked to the post office to register for the draft.

I remember that walk very clearly — a few years earlier that registration would likely have been my ticket to the jungles of Vietnam, which ended when I was 12. Now the draft was over, the military was a voluntary force and my registration was a matter of form.

There followed a good many years of relative peace, with few “boots on the ground.”

And then we had the terror attacks of 2001, the war in Afghanistan (2001 to present) and the invasion of Iraq, which according to a Wikipedia timeline lasted eight years, ending in 2011.

Both wars fought by volunteers, funded by the national debt.

Yet the U.S. casualties of those wars continue to mount, as our professional soldiers are asked to serve multiple combat deployments — multiple tours which are beyond any man’s ability to endure – then return to civilian life to find themselves unsupported and unable to adjust or heal. Suicide becomes an increasingly common choice.

Americans are, by and large, oblivious. Few know the young men who have served, fewer still could tell you what these wars cost in financial terms, as the cost has been deferred to future generations.

I credit Wikipedia above, in saying the Iraq war ended in 2011, because it did not truly end. American ground troops pulled out, to be sure: And ISIL swept into the power vacuum. We are now back, not to square one but to a country broken and ruled by an even greater threat.

We lost a Marine in Iraq last week, and are officially deploying “boots on the ground” once again. I’ll leave it to RaeLynn to describe exactly what this means for those who serve and their families.

But before we ramp up yet another political war game, we need to consider whether we have any right to do this to the men and women who have elected to defend our country.

Given what we know today, multiple deployments are as much our enemy as ISIL.

Sending a man or woman into combat three, four or five times is just not acceptable. We have no right to jeopardize their humanity, and deployments should be limited in terms of individual service.

Which brings me back to the draft.

A military based on a draft has its faults and problems — but apathy is not one of them.

If your son or daughter – or my son or daughter – could be called to serve we are going to ask questions. Exactly what is our goal in Iraq? How will we define success in Afghanistan? Africa? Libya? Syria?

We destroyed Al Qaeda but we also dispersed their ideology, in a more radical form, over a much greater territory.

We now need a plan that makes sense, that isn’t based on election rhetoric and isn’t killing our soldiers at home as well as overseas.

We’ve won some battles, but we are not winning this war against terrorism.


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