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We've Been At War For More Than a Decade and a Half

Updated on December 13, 2016
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.


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.

Countless casualties.

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?


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    • Pollyannalana profile image


      3 years ago from US

      How many millions was that for what? Seven boots on the ground? Somewhere around there. Get real and when they sent armored cars it was without the armor! Are mentally impaired running the show? Our government needs cleaned up and supporting our troops. If we had boots on the ground as we should and as many soldiers wanted to we would not have a terrorist problem right now. If Americans choose and want to fight for our country why should we stop them? I imagine they are as ashamed as many Americans are that we are a bunch of wimps when true Americans are anything but!

      How about those dying every day waiting for treatment too, who have already served? We just all ignore that not to blame our party, right? That is how much we care.

      We could have a war over in no time if there was an honest man in office who hadn't cut our military back to bare bones!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kathleen.....Bravo! and of course, "Ditto." How totally I agree with you. In fact, I cannot imagine your powerful statements would not resound with all of us. This Middle East Monster has been allowed to go on for much too long. Worst of all....what can we claim to have accomplished in terms of "Terrorists?"

      It is frighteningly clear THEY have only grown, spread and continued their savagery everywhere. WHEN do we put an end to this one way or another..ONCE and for all?

      How about we NOW focus on our dedicated and sacrificing Military? Their lives, well-being, MEDICAL CARE, and housing. There are countless Military, who have lost their lives, suffered catastrophic physical and mental injury and come home to a myriad of more struggle and misery.

      This is blatant cause for America to be ashamed and embarrassed. Our military need us, not simply our gratitude and respect but so much more.

      I must stop now although I have so much more to express. I thank you for sharing this wonderful food for thought and action. Peace, Paula

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Rebecca and mary: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.

      I recycled this because we're considering going back into Iraq, and my first thought was: give these families a break please!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      4 years ago from Florida

      I usually don't get involved in discussions about religion or politics (which includes war), but I've often wondered why we feel we have to run into a foreign country and try and solve their problems when we can't solve our own problems here in the US

      There will always be wars for all the obvious reasons, I think.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I suppose their will always be war. I don't know what would ever stop the problems in the middle east. Maybe running out of oil? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      tillsontitan: Thanks for your contribution to this important discussion. An exit strategy was the lesson of Vietnam. After learning it the hard way, this bunch forgot again. We didn't win the Cold War on the battlefield. What made us think the War on Terror would be any different. I personally know three families who have suffered the ultimate losses. We do owe a debt we can never repay.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      How sad is our world? We were once a mighty nation that ended wars and now we just continue on and on. You are right, we need to find a different way to fight terrorism and bring our boys home where they belong. NO ONE should have more than one deployment anywhere!

      Voted up, useful, and awesome.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Gustheredneck and moonlake: Thanks for your comments. You both made some good points as far as I'm concerned. You might be interested in my hub, They Are on Their Way Home - Are You Ready to Say Thanks?

      Gustheredneck, thank you for your service.

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      It would be different if we were fighting for people who cared but in this case I think they would rather just have us out of their country.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      6 years ago from USA

      Hi Kathleen - Well, here we are dealing with one skirmish in a long line of them. My time began a wee bit earlier than did World War II, and I cannot remember a time since then during which this country was not actively warring, considering warring, being warred upon, and wishing that we could truly have peace. My own most "peaceful" years were the 14 I spent in the military. Sounds strange to say that, but I was not then under any illusion that peace had arrived at last.

      My conclusion is that war will never go away.

      Gus :-)))

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      phdast7: If only politicians listened! I was moved by the comments this hub generated. Thanks for yours.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Kathleen- Great essay/editorial articulating what should be obvious to us all. But far too often we choose not to think about our ten year war and the men and their families who have done all the sacrificing. This should be required reading for every politician. especially the ones in Washington, DC. Thank you.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Old Empresario: How are you only a level two commentator with all that historical knowledge in your comments? My husband is also a retired soldier and he couldn't agree with you more, though his career was with the all-volunteer army back when they had all the people and equipment they needed. He is now a contractor and wonders what the hell happened to the Army he knew!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      MonetteforJack: I'm open to anyone with a useful strategy. All I'm saying is after 10 years it's time to do something other than what we've been doing. You make some really good points, with history to back them up. Hope there are folks like you working on the problem.

    • MonetteforJack profile image


      7 years ago from Tuckerton, NJ

      Yes, we shouldn't. But if we withdraw, the enemy would be in power again and then get big. Then, Heaven-forbid, we would be fighting the enemy in our soil. We need to have some strategy to win this war, win it soon.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Jed: Just read your profile. Thank you and your family for your service as well.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I wondered as I wrote this if anyone would see this situation as I do. I was hoping for input. Thanks for such good responses. Kristen, thank you for your service, and that of your family.

      Old E, I'm assuming you served in Vietnam - thanks to you and your family.

    • Jed Fisher profile image

      Jed Fisher 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Old Empresario, you got that right.

    • profile image

      Old Empresario 

      7 years ago

      It is sad to see what these wars are doing to the military. In Vietnam, we had a citizen-soldier army of conscripts. Everyone in the US had skin in the game, making political change more feasible. Today's army is made up of volunteers with bonuses who sign contracts of long periods of service. The societal gap between soldier and civilian is increasing. The two worlds cannot relate to one another and the military men/women are becoming increasingly resentful toward the civilians. The military leadership propagandizes its units, so soldiers see any type of dissenting opinion on the war as disloyalty to the nation and the military. What we can expect in the coming years is that the soldiers in the military will start behaving less like a standing army and more like 16th-Century mercenaries. By that, I mean they will be trained professionals who avoid fighting and often lose their wars, they'll despise the citizen population, and will be more loyal to their individual units than they are to the nation. That is what our government is breeding right now through this current deployment program. Of course, now the government seems to be toying with the idea of cutting military benefits and replacing humans with drones.

    • profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 

      7 years ago

      in 2001 we were in the fifteenth year of my husband's career, (We retired in 2006), I agree with you that it would be nice to have an end in sight, I just don't know that it will ever happen. Voted up, useful, interesting


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