We've Been At War For More Than a Decade and a Half
We've been at war for more than a decade - more than a decade and a half. Anyone younger than 18 can probably not remember a time when we were not sending our forces to the middle east.
The United States of America has never been at war that long. We've never had a generation of soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who we have asked so much of. Not to mention what we've put their families through. Talk about the greatest generation.
5,500+ American lives.
Who knows how many divorces.
Young families having to decide whether to be apart for the pregnancy and birth of a child or for their child's first year? Having to make those choices over and over again as the deployments were repeated. In the Vietnam War, you usually only got a second tour in the war zone if you volunteered for it. Then people talked about that dedication to duty with reverence. "He served two tours in Vietnam." For this generation of military, multiple tours in the two theaters have been the norm. Many have spent five of the last ten years at war. That is longer service than the entire World War II.
I write about this generation because I came before them. Our family spent twenty years in the military and never had to make the sacrifices these families have been making over and over again. A decade. America has done a better job of supporting these brave and dedicated families and members of our armed forces than we have in other wars. But that support must sound a little hollow when we offer these people no end in sight.
We won the Cold War against the former Soviet Union without directly going to war - but it took a generation. And in reality, that conflict will continue to spring up at different sites around the globe as long as there are differing convictions and philosophies about power and freedom. The war on terror is going to be the same - in fact it may well be the same war just in a different form. It can't be won as a traditional military conflict. It is going to go on in one form or another as long as differing factions struggle against each other.
Politics aside. Whatever your party or affiliation. We cannot stay at war with troops on the ground indefinitely. We can't keep doing this to these warriors and their families. And we can never thank them sufficiently for all they have already done for us - for their country. They are only one percent of our population. After ten years, I believe the best thanks is to tell those warriors they don't have to keep doing this any more.
Now the dragon rearing its ugly head in the Middle East is Syria. Politicians are starting to do what politicians perennially do. "For every action there is an over-reaction." Boots on the ground! We need boots on the ground! Chicken Little comes to mind. I believe our response should be: Unless you are willing to pick up a weapon and go yourself, anything but sending more young Americans to die.
America: We can't stay at war forever. What is the definition of insanity?