Politics & Policy

Soldiers’ Voices

Listen to what the armed forces have to say about Iraq.

Operation Arrowhead Ripper, as the latest American offensive is called, has successfully swept into al Qaeda-infested Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad, killing and capturing hundreds of terrorists. The battles in Iraq and Afghanistan time and time again have resulted in significant, but often untold military successes. Realities on the ground often go unnoticed or under-appreciated.

The American soldier has often lacked a voice to articulate his mission and his successes amidst the cacophony of defeat in Congress and public opinion polls.

I invited warriors to weigh in with their perspectives, interviewing hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, many on the battlefields of Iraq. Together, their interviews constitute much of War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy the Military and Lose the War on Terror. And the picture they paint of their fellow citizens at home is anything but rosy.

‐ “Every day, the enemy changes…only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it. But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society…and they are becoming our enemy. Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the Internet…and there is no outrage but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed…for doing their job…It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this.” –Sergeant Eddie Jeffers, U.S. Army

‐ “Some of the American public have no idea how much freedom costs and who the people are that pay that awful price. I think sometimes people just see us as nameless and faceless and not really as humans…A good portion of us are actually scared that when we come home, for those of us who make it back, that there will be protesters waiting for us and that is scary.”—Specialist Jason Gilson, U.S. Army

‐ “What angers and hurts me as a soldier is that they parade their anti-war views in the face of my brothers and sisters who are recovering from the same battlefield that I fought on and am still fighting on as I type this e-mail. Is there no honor or dignity left in the antiwar movement? Do they have no shame? Do they have no integrity? Do they have no heart? Do they have no soul? I can answer that with a simple no! How can they say they support the troops but protest where they try to recover from war? You interviewed one gentleman, and I use that term loosely, who stated ‘If I was injured I would want someone to speak for me like this.’ Well let me tell him something, we do not want you to speak for us and we do not need you to speak for us!” –Sergeant Mark Leach, U.S. Army

‐ “Compared to the shock of the instant, violent death of a squad-mate standing right next to me or the excitement of a child looking at my uniform, the constant barrage of partisan politics, runaway brides and the activities of Paris Hilton seem utterly devoid of importance. I have marines slowly recuperating at hospitals in San Francisco, Washington, Bethesda and San Diego. Who is telling their stories?” –Captain Rory Quinn, U.S. Marines

‐ “We daily see the gross distortions. We can’t recognize the caricatures they [the media] scratch out, neither in our fellow soldiers, nor on the battleground. I know they claim to be objective but really they’re nothing more than accomplices in the face of this evil.” –First Sergeant Jeff Nuding, U.S. Army

‐ “The troops’ number-one frustration has consistently been the media reporting. The way the press mishandled Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo had a tremendous negative effect on us. It inflamed the Iraqis at a time when we were making great progress in their support and willingness to help.”—-Major Eric Egland, U.S. Air Force

‐ “We are at war, Representative Murtha, and your actions and conduct give aid and comfort to our enemies…You have dishonored all of those who have fought and died up to the day you stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and demanded that we withdraw immediately. Representative Murtha, you have given aid and comfort to our enemies in a time of war. You have given them hope, which they have fast been losing, due to all of the victories and sacrifice by our sons and daughters on the field of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have been honored by our enemies on the front page of Al Jazeera. . . ” –Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Stark, U.S. Army

Listen to these voices. Listen to their clarity and purpose. Have you heard anything lately from Washington, D.C., or in the mainstream media nearly as cogent?

As with all wars, America’s fate resides in the hands of the vocal elite manning the editorial desks, congressional offices, and studio back lots. As we approach the birthday of our independence, let us add another voice to the dialogue: the uniformed men and women who, then as now, granted and preserved our freedom. Our way of life is at stake, as is the plight of 25 million Iraqis. Shouldn’t we listen?

— Buzz Patterson is a retired lieutenant-colonel in the U.S. Air Force. His new book, War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy the Military and Lose the War on Terror, is released this week.

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