Threats of Iran
The Problems with Islam
We are losing this
WAR(?), says who?...
Gays in the Military
15 Month - combat tours
Thoughts on the War
Women should not be in
Who We Fight...
My View of Mohamed
People criticize the President for leading
us into Iraq, but if he had not responded as strongly as he did
to the 9/11 attacks, and the growing threat of Sadam, the country most assuredly would have
criticized him for insufficient action and accused him of being
I visited ground zero in New York City. I
feel it should be a pilgrimage for every American. When I was
there, looking at the gaping hole that used to be the Twin
Towers I was in awe. The level of loss was unfathomable. I
thought about the people that did this. I don’t remember the
mafia movie, but the line the Don used to express his anger was
something like “I want them dead! I want their families dead! I
want their homes burned to the ground!” I can only imagine what
President Bush thought about when he looked into the still
smoking rubble. With the most powerful military on the planet
at his fingertips, I feel he used great restraint compared to
what retribution could have been unleashed.
There are two things happening in our
country which cause me to lose faith in America. One is the
outright defeatists who say we have lost or are loosing in
Iraq. The other is Americans who choose to turn and run at the
first sign of bloodshed.
One of Americas biggest weaknesses in
dealing with the Middle East is it’s ever present need for rapid
and measurable change. Near instant gratification and solutions
finalized in the length of time it takes to show a TV sitcom is
the prevailing mindset. Change will come to the Middle East but
it will take time and commitment – and this is not something
American politicians or the public are built for.
To me, there is a sense of relief that
President Bush takes stands and is clear on issues; to include
Iraq. His decision to invade was resolute, and I believe
history will show it as the correct course of action.
While many would argue his "Stay the course" strategy needs to
change, I am not convinced the strategy has failed. To the
contrary, I see indications it is working, just not at the pace
the American public demands.
American politics have become far too
polarized. I have the perception far too many politicians,
on both sides of the isle, are more concerned with opposing
their rivals, and bending to the result of the latest poll,
rather than governing with genuine intent to make the future
It is my belief history will ultimately
show the world the decision to go to war in Iraq was the right
one. In my opinion, the choice to ignore a growing threat and
willful evil in the world is a far greater wrong than the
choices which bring a country to war. I also believe history
will show many flaws in how the war and the rebuilding of Iraq
were carried out.
As Americans, we have culturally always
stood behind people who make a strong decision, stick to it, and
follow a course of action. Even in failure for a daring
decision there is respect. Americans deplore inaction or
vacillating on a decision. Nowhere is this more evident than in
the Military. “Attack, Attack, always move forward”. Many
consider former President Carter’s most noteworthy act as
President the decision to attempt the rescue of the American
hostages in Iran with the “Desert One” military operation;
despite the fact the mission ended in failure.
Many people blame the unrest in the
Middle-East on the Israel - Palestinian conflict or the Unites
States' support for Israel. Is there anyone who really
believes that if Israel had not been created in 1948, that this
part of the world would be prosperous and peaceful?
The American Revolution was fought because
(as history records it) the American people had taxation without
representation, which is bad enough. ...but try Saudi
Arabia, the people (who are not a part of the royal family) live
in a system where they have no taxation and no representation.
They don't even have a point to begin to address their
grievances. Is it any wonder why most of the 9/11
hijackers were Saudi nationals "displeased" with our support of
People in the United States worry about
what would happen if the flow of world oil were disrupted or the
price of gas increased substantially. Paying $5.00 or more for a
gallon of gas would be painful, but the US would manage. Many
do not consider what such and increase would do to a third-world
country; gas really would be unaffordable to the population.
Struggling businesses would close, workers would not work, and
in the poorest of areas life-sustaining food shipments would not
reach the people; mass-starvation would be one result.
Think about that the next time you think about the value of
One description of the Iraq situation
overall and agreed to by most soldiers is "good idea, bad
execution"; meaning we did the right thing by removing Sadam,
but since then many things have been done poorly"
Anyone who does not believe Iran is
supporting insurgents in Iraq, or believes the Iranian
government when they state their nuclear program is only for
peaceful purposes, and not the development of nuclear weapons -
has their head in the sand and is blind to history.
I have yet to find anyone who can give me
an example from history of a war that went smoothly and
according to plan. Today is no different; war is and will
always be an exercise in chaos.
Any of our presidential candidates or
politicians who say we should immediately pull our troops out of
Iraq might as well say we are going to have to send troops back
to the Middle East in the future for a much bigger fight which
will kill a lot more Americans.
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Response to: “Reporters in Iraq put lives
on line” Sunday, October 15, 2006 – Stars and Stripes.
I have never liked the Press
much. Both as a police officer and a military officer I have
always perceived the press as looking for the headline that will
bring them the most attention with little regards for the
accuracy of what they are reporting or the effects it will have
on the person being interviewed. When reporters have
interviewed me, I have been more concerned with how they will
twist my words rather than being concerned if I am giving them
the information the public needs to know.
My view is changing. In large
part because of the violence directed at the Press here in Iraq
and elsewhere. They still report. Now, I perceive not so much
for personal glory, but because what is happening here in Iraq
and other parts of the world needs to be told.
Those who speak out about
wrongs and have opinions counter to fundamentalists, be they
Islamic or Sectarian, risk death by doing so in Iraq; or speak
out about the wrongs of a government, as is surely the case in
the murder of Russia’s Anna Politkovskaya.
As an ingrained
American Civil Liberty, “Freedom of the Press” means not only
freedom from censorship and being able to say what you want, but
also not being persecuted and murdered for it. Not fighting for
this basic right will enable hatred and evil to create a wall of
silence where tyranny will prevail.
To all of the
reporters and journalists in harms way, we stand with you; Stay
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The threats made by Iran, or
any Middle Eastern culture, are many times heard by Westerners
in the context of a “western” threat. In the West, for the vast
majority of threats, the “Western ear” knows it is not a threat
which will be carried out. Many times (most times), the threat
has little more weight than a boast or a “face saving” measure.
Even in law enforcement, a person who is claiming to be the
victim of a threat must state why they believe the threat made
against them was genuine and should be taken literally. Western
media is full of examples of people making threats that are
given little or no weight. Even in our day-to-day language
terms such as “hollow threat” or “saber rattling” are common
euphemisms to denote what little value is place on threats. The
result of this is the “western” public places little or no
weight on a threat that is made against them.
In Middle Eastern cultures, and
Iran, this in not the case. The cultures of the Middle East are
communal cultures and relationships and “face saving” is of the
utmost importance. (but that is the subject for another entry)
When interacting with a person from a Middle Eastern culture,
the “intent” can be as important as the act. If you ask a
person for something they will most likely be very
accommodating, and respond positively. In their mind they leave
the agreement with the genuine “intent” to complete the
arrangement. Later, depending on circumstances, if the
arrangement is not fulfilled this is not necessarily viewed as a
failure, because the original intent was there.
When a person of a Middle
Eastern (communal culture), makes a threat this should be given
much more weight than a threat made by a westerner. It can also
be inferred, at the time the threat is made, there is full
intent to carry it out. The threat itself many times is a
response to having “lost face”; i.e. “Saber Rattling” from the
US directed towards Iran, but this threat is made with the
intent to carry out the action. Iran’s “face saving” measure is
to respond with “genuine” threats, which should be received
Due to the face
saving nature of Middle Eastern culture, a threat should be
responded to in one of two ways: challenge the threat and be
prepared for combat or engage in dialogue and provide the
“threat maker” an opportunity to save face. The cost of combat
between the US and Iran would be immense. The cost of dialogue
with Iran is low and may have the desired result.
Recently (May 06)
Iran’s President Ahmadinejad invited President Bush to meet and
discuss issues. President Bush’s response was to rebuff the
offer and continue the administrations “silent treatment”. I
am concerned as to the long term result of this course of
action. In the relationship oriented culture
of Iran, refusing an offer to dialogue is highly disrespectful.
The American concept of “the silent treatment”, does not apply
to this situation, it may only makes a bad situation worse.
The bottom line:
the threats made by Iran against the US are extremely serious
and should be taken as Iran having the full “intent” to carry
out the threat. Most assuredly, the threats are not “hollow
threats” or “saber rattling”.
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The Problems with Islam
not an Islamic scholar, nor a Christian scholar, or a scholar of
anything else for that matter. But I have done my share of
reading and studying of the Koran and Islam. Add to that to
what I have personally observed of the actions of the vast
majority of Muslim people and I am left with the impression
Islam does not yet embrace some fundamental concepts which will
enable the followers of Islam to progress into a modern
the culture and norms of an Islamic community are very different
from what I am used to, I have observed there are three basic
ideas which have been largely adopted by western society which
are lacking in the Islamic world. The ideas of
forgiveness, proportionality, and covetousness do not appear to
be at the forefront of Islamic thinking or actions by Muslims
and until they are, Islam is destined to be a warring,
fragmented, primitive society which will drag down all cultures
it comes in contact with.
Although I am currently serving as a soldier in the heart of the
Muslim world, most times I feel little more than a spectator to
one tragedy after another here in the Middle East. Recently, I
opened a newspaper and on one page I read accounts of sectarian
killings and escalating violence which seem to have no end.
Mostly the Sunni verses the Shia; bombing, kidnappings, murders;
with each event, pure rage from the victims and vows for revenge
in an escalating power struggle.
contrast this, I read the account of the Amish school shooting
tragedy in the USA in 2006. If ever evil had a face, it was
found in the perpetrator who brutally murdered innocent children
at an Amish school house. The Amish, devoutly Christian and
viewed by most Westerners as a fringe group, showed the rest of
the world just what it means to embrace the concept of
forgiveness. The killer’s home was not targeted and his family
was not persecuted. Quite the contrary, the killer’s family was
embraced by the community and the healing from the tragedy
not able to quote Bible passages by number and my church
attendance record is far from stellar, but many of the Christian
ideas of forgiveness remain with me: “forgive those who trespass
against you”, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”,
“turn the other cheek”. All ideas which are much easier said
the Amish tragedy occurred in an Islamic community in the Middle
East, I am hard pressed to believe further killing would not
have ensued. With each atrocity committed in the Muslim world,
I see grieving families burying their dead followed shortly
thereafter by vows of revenge then acts of violence. I have yet
to hear of anyone standing up and saying they will forgive the
perpetrators. Until the concept of forgiveness is embraced
within the Islamic culture, the cycle of violence will never
second idea which seems, by my view, foreign to the Islamic
world is the idea of proportionality. Does the punishment fit
the crime? All cultures must come to terms with how to handle
those who commit crimes or offend others. At times, as a police
officer, I feel the West is far too lenient in how criminals are
treated. If you were going to commit a crime anywhere in the
world you would be hard pressed to find any justice system as
lenient as in the USA. It is not a perfect system by any means,
but it does allow for redemption and second chances.
within the Islamic culture, no punishment seems to extreme, no
infraction too minor. Stealing a load of bread could result in
justice being wrought out in the form of amputation of a hand.
Fail to show proper reverence to the Quaran or the Prophet
Mohammad and many would call for your death. If you are a
woman, and the mere belief exists about a single violation of
honor, death may be imposed with impunity in the form of an
Christian concept of “an eye for an eye” is many times quoted as
a justification for capital punishment. If you kill someone,
you should die. The “eye for an eye” passage is not about
equality in punishment it is about the proportionality of the
punishment. Prior to this concept, the perpetrators of even
minor crimes were routinely punished to excess. This concept is
still practiced within the Islamic world; to its detriment.
third thing, which is more obscure than the first two is the
idea of “covetousness”, to look at what another has and “covet”
it. Whether it is because of Islam, or because of a culture
formed in a barren desert environment over centuries, the
Islamic Middle East looks to their neighbors and the rest of the
world with envious eyes.
concept has also formed the basis of the Middle Eastern belief
that the reason things are not more prosperous and there is so
much unrest is because of the West. While there are aspects of
this which may be true, it also has hampered Middle Eastern eyes
of looking inward to their own responsibility.
it is because of rigid social classes found in this part of the
world; no matter your efforts, you will never rise above the
class you were born into. Maybe it is because Islam has the
example of Muhammad, who was a ruthless military conqueror who
took the possessions, wives and land of the people he was
victorious against. Whatever the reason, few in the Middle East
will blame themselves for their situation. Rather than seeking
improvement and prosperity, fixing blame consumes much of the
Islamic and Middle Eastern thought.
While these cultural ideas which have taken root in the Western
world enable us to live in greater peace, the lack of them in
the Middle East will and have caused generations of conflict and
bloodshed. Ultimately, until these ideas are adopted violence,
hatred and oppression will be the cornerstone of Middle Eastern
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We are losing this
WAR(?), says who?...
“WAR” in Iraq was won when the statue of Saddam was pulled from
it’s mount in Baghdad and the dictator was pulled from a spider
hole and captured. The ruthless Ba’athist government was
removed. Objective accomplished. There were minimal
casualties, rapid overwhelming victory of one military over
Immediately following this event, the real challenges
began-Nation Building. Messy, difficult, imperfect, but
absolutely essential. Yes, there has been more loss of life,
both Coalition and Iraqi and while I would never minimize the
death of anyone, soldier or civilian - Coalition or Iraqi, I am
awestruck by the magnitude of what has been and is being
is a country of 26 million people. The military Coalition
barely numbers 150,000. If the vast majority of Iraqis did not
want us here, we would not be here. Although it is a “two steps
forward, one step back” process, progress is being made.
to date, we have lost over 3,100 soldiers. This sounds like a
lot until you consider in the last 4 years over 500,000 soldiers
have been trough Iraq. The forces which oppose us have been
reduced to road-side bombs and hit and run attacks, mostly on
civilians. In military terms, while frustrating, this amounts
to little more than harassment.
same span of time, during WWII over 350,000 soldiers were lost; Vietnam more than 50,000;
We lost more soldiers on the first day of the Normandy invasion
than in all of Iraq. The loss of life in comparison
to the global changes which have occurred, have been
unprecedented. If you factor into this the minimal
disruption to the way of life on the average American and the
success of this campaign seems obvious.
Improvements continue everyday, but it will take time. Time not
measured in months, but in decades. I wish the American people
would look at this as a 20 year endeavor rather that an extended 2 year
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people who read and study Iraq have a difficult time gaining an
understanding of what the conflict is about. Many who are
in Iraq fighting the battle also have the same questions.
As for me, there is a perspective or vision which I see that
makes it clear to me.
growing a garden. The fruit of the garden are the ideas of
liberty, civil rights, women's rights, healthy businesses,
freedom from tyranny and modern world ideas of equality.
The weeds of the garden are hatred, fundamentalism, poverty,
crime and mass violence against the innocent.
have removed the overgrown weeds and now are attempting to nurse
the fragile fruits of the garden to take root in difficult
ground. The weeds grow every day and are continually
uprooted by us. If we abandon the garden, the weeds will
choke out the fruit, and spread to other gardens.
time the garden will grow roots and be able to survive against
the weeds, but until then we must continue to weed the garden
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Gays in the Military
military has a policy towards individuals who are gay. It is
called “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”. This means if someone does not
openly say they are gay or conduct themselves in a way which
clearly shows they are gay, then you (military leaders) do not
pursue someone to try and determine if they are gay.
my prediction this will change.
not gay and I do not understand, nor am I comfortable with the
idea of a gay lifestyle. I do believe it is a sexual
disposition from birth. People who are gay can no more change
their orientation than a straight person could be convinced to
I say it will change? …because of my observations of kids
today. I spent a number of years as a School Resource Officer
(Police Officer in a school) at a blue-collar, lower income
middle school (6, 7, and 8th grades) in the heart of
conservative Colorado Springs. I would not have believed it if
I had not seen it with my own eyes; openly gay students and
couples. What was more surprising was it was considered by all
the other students to be very “uncool” if one was “anti-gay”.
as a supervisor of junior soldiers (who many years ago used to be a
junior soldier), I can see the attitudes have changed. Fifteen
years ago if you told me a given person in a unit was gay, I
would have told you with certainty the morale will break down
and the presence of a gay soldier would be unreasonably
disruptive to the mission.
I am not so sure. Judging by the conversations I am included in
or overhear, most junior soldiers have little if any negative
attitudes towards people who are gay. Most young people today
know someone, or at least have been presented with someone who
is openly gay in the media and do not have the same negative
reaction as a generation ago.
candidly ask anyone who has spent any amount of time in the
military if there are gays in the ranks, there are. You will
also find that soldiers who have spent any time in a demanding
job, (i.e. combat) don’t really care what someone else does
behind closed doors. They do care if the other person will
carry their weight when things get tough.
my expectation that in the not too distant future the “Don’t
ask, Don’t tell” policy will evolve into a “Professional
Conduct” ethic; soldiers will be mandated to conduct themselves
respectfully and professionally toward members of the opposite
or same sex.
whether you are for, indifferent to or against openly gay
soldiers, all I can say is be prepared for the open attitudes of
the majority of today’s young people to bring about a policy
shift. The shift may not happen tomorrow, but it would not
surprise me if the junior soldiers of today, ended up retiring
with their openly gay fellow soldiers.
…and if you would have told me 15 years ago
I would write a piece with this viewpoint, I would have told you
it would not happen in a million years. That was a quick
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15 Month - combat tours
Somewhere on paper
this must sound like a good idea. Keep the troops in the
combat zone longer, thereby reducing the overall number you have
to send over the years. Whoever made this decision is a
long way from the troop on the ground. Carrying out this
plan will have devastating effects on our troops and overall
I fully expect my
unit to lose 50% of it soldiers within 6 months of returning.
This attrition is due to the time and hardship unnecessarily
imposed on the soldiers. I feel many at the policy level
do not understand the soldiers getting out can not be replaced
through more recruiting. Most of the soldiers choosing to
leave are the most experienced and educated, with years of
experience they take with them.
I see cash bonuses
going up for soldiers to stay in. This will only work to a
level; and while soldiers (like everyone else) can be motivated
in the short term with money, long term there needs to be more.
As with many organizations the Army's biggest problem is how to
treat soldiers well and match soldiers skill sets with the jobs
they want. The soldiers I have encountered are most frustrated
with ineffective leadership and painful bureaucracies far more
than dealing with the enemy.
The Army needs to apply the lesson of
business - it is more cost effective to keep good employees than
try to find and train new ones.
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One Soldier’s Thoughts on the War
By LTC Chris Petty
The importance of history is
rarely seen by those who are living it. The war in Iraq and the
conflicting attitudes of Americans at home bear out this
enduring truth. Yet, even today, we find ourselves locked in
the greatest struggle of our times. America and the secular free
world are in a war with radical Islam. Some are appropriately
calling this the ‘Long War’. History looks back on the recent
struggles of the last century and judges our nation strong.
When faced with totalitarian fascism during World War II,
America was resolved and proved strong. When faced with the
strong threat of communism against our capitalist system of the
Cold War, America again stood strong. Once again we are faced
with a great historical tide. This time it is the lovers of
freedom and liberty against those that would shackle free men
and women with their twisted and repressive view of God’s will
and enslave us under their versions of Sharia Law.
Those who understand history
understand that patterns do repeat themselves. The most basic
pattern is the looming buildup of a nation’s enemies followed by
the often slow responses of the established powers to meet the
threat, often at their peril. We can trace it back to the Greeks
versus the Persians, the Huns and Visagoths versus the Romans,
or the Allies versus the Axis powers. If anything, history
teaches that we are usually are too slow to respond decisively
to the threat until it is, or almost is, too late. The
significant difference today is that so much more destructive
power can now be wielded by so few. We are now faced with a new
rising tide of danger. We can not make the mistake of ignoring
it until it grows stronger and more powerful than it already is.
We are not at war with Islam, but we are at war with radical
Islam, a dark and growing threat—make no mistake about it.
America did not
start this war; it has been steadily building for at least 25
years. Many believe the “Ft Sumter” of this war was the 1983
Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. It became more visible in
1993 when al Qaeda attempted to bring down the twin towers on
American soil the first time. And don’t forget the other direct
attacks against us; the USS Cole, the Embassy bombings in Kenya
and Tanzania, the Khobar Towers, along with numerous failed and
On September 11th,
2001 America received a stark wake-up call, and an undeniable
sign that our enemies were intent on our destruction. The war
had finally come to our shores, and we realized that we were, in
fact, in a real war all along-- a very different war, but a real
war that threatened our population and our way of life.
And so, we went on
the offense. We toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan, and
eliminated the state apparatus that directly supported and
enabled that terror that had reached out and hurt us at home.
Most people supported this action because the Taliban government
could be directly traced to supporting al Qaeda. Unfortunately,
this war did not stop in Afghanistan. The defined boundaries of
nation-states mean nothing to our new enemy. This enemy is
threaded through numerous nations with loosely connected cells
of personnel, leadership, training, supplies, and financial
support. These networks know no borders and respect no
sovereign, accept their radical ideology. These cells thread
through Pakistan, Iran, Syria, the horn of Africa, the
Philippines, even Europe. This enemy is truly global in his
reach. Yet even with the challenges this presents, we now
understand that we must go on the offense to defeat him. And
this brings us to Iraq.
Saddam, represented a connected thread in this war. Granted,
that thread was not as obvious as the Taliban thread in
Afghanistan, but it was connected nonetheless. Iraq was a
radical regime that supported terror, an enemy of freedom, and
certainly a future exporter of terror. Remember, it was Saddam
Hussein who paid sizable cash rewards to Palestinian suicide
bombers who killed innocent Israeli civilians. He also used WMD
on his own people in genocide programs. In addition, US and
intelligence agencies around the world agreed that Iraq was a
looming threat and that he was trying to pursue WMD programs.
In hindsight, his WMD capability was overestimated, but what
they did not overestimate was his danger to the region and the
world. And so our leadership decided to bring the war into
We understand all
too well that Iraq looks tough right now. But just imagine a
world with Saddam still in power ten years from now, as he has
increased his support for terror, figured out how to build his
arsenals, and tried desperately to get his revenge on America.
However you feel about the justification for this war in Iraq, I
will tell you from personal experience that our real enemies
here are the hard-core radical Islamists, who are coming in from
other countries and holding this nation hostage, even as we try
to help. There is also ethnic fighting here. It is the result
of decades of oppression being lifted while Sunnis, Shias,
Kurds, and various sects and tribes try to position themselves
in the vacuum of power created when an oppressive dictator
suddenly disappears. Yet, overwhelmingly the largest force of
turbulence here is still al Qaeda trying to establish a foothold
to grow and export their radical views on the world.
We are not growing
terrorists here. We are fighting on the central front in the
Long War. The terrorists know that Iraq is the great
battleground in this global war, al Qaeda’s number-two man,
Zawahiri, said as much. As a result, they are flocking to this
battlefield in their holy war like moths to the flame. In this
way, the US and our allies are able to play offense rather than
defense. In our new reality, where so few bad actors can now do
so much damage, this is the only way to play.
This war on
radical Islam is real, and it will be with us for decades to
come. In the end, it will come down to the side that has the
greatest will to succeed. If the enemy wins in Iraq, he will
grow and become more emboldened. In addition, he will have new
access to populations and tremendous resources for his growth,
funding, and arming efforts. He will then become a more
powerful and dangerous threat. He will not leave us alone. He
has not left us alone for the last 25 years. His attacks have
only grown in reach and destruction.
our side, our western societies are more concerned with
tolerance than for standing up for what is right and standing
against something that truly threatens us. This seems to work
fine in civilized, secular societies. But this is very
dangerous when faced with an intolerant enemy bent on your
destruction. Appeasement is not effective against this enemy.
Our enemy is ruthless and decidedly intolerant and violent. How
many videotaped beheadings do we need to see to understand what
we are up against? Why do you think everyone is too scared to
criticize them publicly? Just look what happened when a Dutch
newspaper ran a cartoon of Mohammed—people around the world were
killed! They threaten and terrorize to get their way. They are
determined to win. In this light, our “tolerance” may be the
fatal flaw in our western secular societies that could lead to
our slow and painful demise.
No one, in their
right mind likes war, unless it is the best choice of two
evils. In our case, we can chose to do nothing, and let radical
Islam grow in strength and reach--choking off countries in its
dark path. All the while, our nation will suffer greater
devastation from attacks against us that will eventually make
the Twin Towers look like child’s play. Or, we can identify our
enemy, find him where he lives and trains, and eliminate him as
a threat. And perhaps more importantly, deny him the fertile
ground for future growth. Iraq is, without any doubt, one of
these places. It’s tough, it’s costly, and it costs us precious
lives, but the alternative for us and our children is even
worse. Again, perspective is important here through the lens of
history. We lost more soldiers in the first day of the Normandy
invasion than we have lost so far in Iraq. Both are painful
reminders of the noble and worthwhile sacrifices sometimes
required from a nation dedicated to fighting for good and
protecting its citizens from future harm.
I think soldiers,
more than anyone, understand the importance of this struggle.
Unfortunately, the world does contain great evil. The great
evil of our time is radical Islam and it must be confronted,
because it does not seem capable of reforming itself from
within, as did our Christian tradition during the Reformation
period. And as the old quote goes, “all that is needed for evil
to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” The battle between
good and evil is taking place here every day. We see the
innocent people here being held hostage and terrorized by a
minority of the population. I have had the experience of
helping liberate hostages on this battlefield. These are people
who were kidnapped, tortured, and would have been killed. Evil
is real and it is around us here.
I am very hopeful
that Iraq will ‘work’. I am honestly not sure it will. But I
still think it is the right thing to do for the world. And when
I grow old, and my grandson asks me what I did in the Army, I
can proudly say that my country sent me to war to rid the world
of a terrible dictator, to try to bring freedom to Iraq, and to
fight for a time on the central battlefield in this ‘Long War’.
I will tell him that it was our great hope as soldiers to help
turn back the terrorizing grip of radical Islam on the world, so
that one day Islam itself will have the chance to reform and
join the community of peaceful and tolerant religions that can
coexist in the world.
And those are my
Colonel Chris Petty commands
an aviation battalion based at LSA Anaconda, Iraq
A note from MAJ
Burns: No matter what your opinion on Iraq and the
larger implications of the Middle East and Muslim relations,
understand the position of the person who wrote this. A
Battalion Commander in the theater of Iraq probably has the
widest view of anyone serving in the Army. He deals down
to the level of the individual soldier on the ground and up into
offices of Generals. He has a full view of the entire theater of
military operations. The views from someone with this breath
and scope is always worth pondering.
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should not be in combat
I have been asked a number of times about
my view of women in combat. My answer has always been the same
– women should not be in combat. Men should not be in combat.
No one should have to be in combat. Combat is a horrific event
no one should experience. Maybe one day no one will have to, but
Women are in combat here in Iraq.
Moreover, women are essential to the combat mission in Iraq.
The days of columns of soldiers facing off on an open field are
well behind us. Today, warfare is conducted in cities
intermixed with civilians. Female civilians and enemy female
combatants are now a part of the modern battlefield. If for no
other reason, female soldiers can intermix and interact with
female civilians better than a man can. On the modern
battlefield, a single photo of a male soldier physically
searching a female civilian can be a PR dream for insurgents in
a Muslim culture.
Some say a woman does not have the
fortitude to handle combat the way a man can. There is an
Arabic term for this belief “Bal-lone-nee”. As a whole, women
are no less brave than men and no less capable of pulling a
trigger. I have also met female soldiers who I believe are on
the upper end of the bravery scale and would have much less
hesitation pulling a trigger. The image of a mother bear
protecting her cubs come to mind.
As a whole, women are not as physically
strong as men. Some women really can’t handle combat physically
and/or emotionally. Some men can’t either. This makes it all
the more important to pick our countries warriors carefully and
based on demonstrated ability.
Would a man take more risks to protect a
female soldier? Some yes, but I think no more than a woman
would take protecting a male soldier. …or any
soldier protecting a fellow soldier.
in the near future WHEN the draft is enacted, our daughters
should be called along side our sons. If that thought disturbs
you, then you have another motivation to be against war and
another motivation to make sure small wars do not become big
wars. How? Go early, go big, go home.
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Who We Fight...
A few days ago at a Joint Coalition Forces compound people were
going about their business as usual; soldiers, civilians,
administrators probably even a few local families. The compound
is a stabilizing force in the area and provides jobs, resources
and protection to the surrounding villages. The compound is
guarded by a combination of locally trained security forces and
I am sure it was a day not much different
from any other; trying to build in a region where a few violent
fanaticals try to destroy what is being built. One of the local
guards saw a small boy (4 or 5 years old) wandering in the
middle of the compound and crying.
As a police officer back home I have
encountered this situation many times. I am sure most cops will
tell you they love the reward of putting criminals in jail.
What they may not tell you, is there is private kind of
satisfaction when you reunite a lost child with their family.
It is no real effort because the family is usually looking for
the child; but to the child, it means the world.
The guard approached the small scared child
and asked him what was wrong. The child through tears said he
forgot what to do. Forgot what to do? The guard asked him what
he meant. It was then the child lifted his shirt and revealed
the bomb that had been strapped to him, explaining that he knew
he was supposed to do something with it, but could not remember
I can not fathom the twisted kind of evil
coward who would put a bomb on a child and send the child to
kill civilians. Some would say we don’t understand the culture
and resolve of who we are fighting; I understand it. It is pure
evil and it is who we fight.
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My View of Mohamed
One can not be in a
predominantly Islamic country and not give thought to the
founder of the religion of Islam, Mohamed. According to the
Islamic faith, Mohamed (which can be spelled a number of
different ways) was a man who lived in the sixth century and is
accepted by Muslims to be a Prophet of God. Mohamed is also the
founder of the Islamic faith.
If you ask a person to put Mohamed into a
category of other “like type” people from history most would
probably include him with other prominent religious figures,
Jesus, Buda, Moses, or Gandhi.
After studying about Mohamed from a
non-religious perspective I now place him into an entirely
different category of historical figures. I place him with
historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Kahn,
Hannibal and Adolph Hitler. Mohamed was an extremely successful
and innovative military commander. This skill as a military
leader, which many westerners do not realize, subsequently
enabled him to rapidly spread the Islamic faith.
Mohamed was a revolutionary military
strategist who was able to unite many formerly hostile tribes
into a cohesive army. Some of the military ideas, revolutionary
and innovative for that time period, were leading battles from
the front, sharing captured wealth with his soldiers, and
actively using espionage and intelligence gathering as a part of
an overall battle plan. In many, if not most of the battles
Mohamed fought he was victorious against numerically superior
forces. His success in battle is a testament to his skill as a
The inclusion of Adolph Hitler in the same
category as Mohamed was not in any way intended to demean the
Muslim faith system or its followers, but to point out a strong
military tactical similarity between the two. Both Mohamed and
Hitler used the calculated use of brutality to achieve military
goals. Additionally, he used political assassinations and the
calculated use of atrocities or what western military thinkers
today would consider “war crimes” to achieve political and
military goals. (i.e. execution of prisoners and civilians,
enslavement of women and children)
For me, it is easy to see why a person of
the Islamic faith can respect and idolize Mohamed. From a
historical military perspective, Mohamed is probably the first
and most successful insurgency leader and his influence and
example can still be felt today.
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