Saturday, September 04, 2004

Letters from the Troops

Operation Truth describe themselves as a "non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to educate the American public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand. "

Here are some extracts from the troops' letters featured on the website

Captain David Chasteen
I will do everything I can to wrench power from the neohawks, fundies, and morons currently at the reiqns, and return it to someone who has a little intelligence and respect for, well, the idea of not invading people at random just because you're in the mood and the polling supports it. Imagine if we spent the 20 Billion dollars we spent on this war trying to actually make things better for the starving, dirty, pissed-off people who seem enamored with the idea of sending us all to hell. Imagine if we sent real live Americens to do it in person. Actually backing up the promises the President made during the previous state of the union might be a good place to start...

...I ended up being part of an invasion force that I don't support politically but am duty-bound to support in reality. The thing that bothers me about the glory that comes from this job is that Americans, almost universally apply it without any caveats. Very few people, mostly soldiers and the people very close to them realize that war itself is not a noble thing. That the soldiers coming back from this war should be praised, but not for the things that most Americans think they should be praised for. I am not happy about this war. I am not glad to be here. I am not glad that I risked my life for something as stupid as this. But I did take an oath to follow the orders of the president and a lot of parents were counting on me to get their kids home safe, and I did that. And I did risk my life to serve my country which is more than just about any of the congressmen and the president who sent me here can say...

Specialist Zach Petersen far as general lack of support, our unit really didn't have much support from the active duty component. We had to drive out to their compound at the Iraqi Olympic stadium to STEAL -- not receive -- our bottled water. Our body armor was just a flack vest...

A soldier with a blog
..I spoke with an Army Captain the other day who was telling me that the Global Security civilian Contractors who work here in Iraq with us are referred to as: "Black Death" by the locals downtown

Some new soldiers were sent to the unit that did not recieve the new interceptor vest at Ft. Stewart and I could not get them one in Kuwait, but they were outfited with them despite this fact. Some members of my unit that wouldn't be on the front line, including me gave them ours. I realy didn't want to give up my protection, but it was my job to outfit my company for war and if a soldier died because I didn't do my job I couldn't live with myself. I wish our leaders in government felt the same as I do.

I remember the night that the 2nd Brigade entered Iraq. A group of us were gathered around talking. The sky was suddenly filled with lightening. It was our artilery firing on Iraqi border positions. My xo somberly said, "Iraqi's are dying." I was very sad. We were later told that our group would be crossing over in the morning. I prayed very hard that night. I didn't pray for myself. I think praying for ones self is selfish. I prayed for the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi soldiers. I knew what was coming at them. I had built some of it. I prayed that they would run away and not fight. I knew if they did they would die.

My one year ‘boots on the ground’ came to an end in May. In Kuwait and just days from flying home, Secretary Rumsfeld reneged on his one-year promise and extended my unit’s tour by three months. We headed back to Iraq. Our new mission was to guard Halliburton truck drivers, civilian contractors who made three and four times my $20,000 salary.

I wondered what on earth civilian truck drivers were doing in a combat zone. Riding with Halliburton on long convoys, we faced roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire to protect these high-paid contractors.

Finally, we were sent home in August. I enlisted in the Army Reserve following September 11, 2001, one of the hardest and best decisions I have made in my life. I love the United States, the Army and my unit. Out of this deep love ask that we as Americans take a long look in the mirror. We must ask ourselves who we are and what we stand for. We as a nation must face the monster we have created in Iraq sooner rather than later. We must find a way out of the mess in Iraq with minimal loss of American and Iraqi life. We owe it to the soldiers on the ground and the embattled Iraqi people.

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