"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."
-Oath of Office (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959)
I swore this oath in 1992, then a young Second Lieutenant. In the past few weeks as I watched and read about the latest round of war protests, I thought about Sun Tzu, the legendary Chinese Strategist, who made it very clear how important it is to "know your enemy" in order to be victorious. This war has many enemies and many fronts both at home and abroad. Iraq is only one, but over the past two years, it has become the centerpiece. As I listened to the same old slogans come from the same people like Jane Fonda, George Galloway and recent media darling, Cindy Sheehan, I am reminded of Tokyo Rose. I have had my fill of hearing enemy propaganda from my own homeland. I do consider them an enemy. They might as well be arhabi recruiters.
When a Soldier is asked what he thinks of these protestors by a reporter, he will usually say something to the effect of, "I'm glad they have the freedom to do that in the USA. Most of the places we go, they kill people for things like that." What the Soldiers don't say, but overwhelmingly think is: "I wish they would quit working against us and abusing their freedom." I don't speak for all fighting men anymore than Cindy speaks for all of our parents. But I can tell you that I have spoken to more than she has, and very few of us here like her, and we wish she would honor her son, Casey's noble sacrifice. He truly was a hero.
While many of us have questioned the wisdom of coming here at one time or another before our arrival, I can say that most everyone that I have spoken to and commiserated with has become a believer in the mission since arriving here inspite of the cost. How we execute the mission can often be the subject of much debate and discontent, but seeing the kids run to our HMMWV's, or cleaning up after a VBIED that has killed numerous innocents has a tendency to make one believe in the mission. This is what I think of when I have the urge to gripe - the mission. Through all the tactical errors, diplomatic mistakes, corruption in the interim government, and fallen brothers, the mission remains constant. It is the among the most sacred things we have here.
While mistakes are made, and bad seeds do bad things, I do not see the value in wallowing in public pennance. Bad things happen in wars, on all sides. But the amount of good we are doing and attempting to do here far outweighs them. I think everyone has seen enough pictures from the Abu Ghraib scandal, and yes, the arhabi do use them in their propaganda. How is giving them more going to help anyone except them? I have distant, vague memories of the ACLU being a good organization that stood for justice. What happened? They have become a disgrace.
I received an e-mail from someone who asked how best to support the troops if he was against the war. My response is this. Pray for a swift and victorious conclusion. The die has been cast. The war has been enjoined. The time for protests was before the shooting started. If we stop before we are finished, we will cause the deaths many thousands more and have yet another war to fight, bloodier, and not too far down the road. The first battle of that war, may again be on our home turf. By all means, vote your conscience. Write your Congressman. Discuss your views with your friends. Better yet, donate to a charity like Operation Iraqi Children, but please don't be a propaganda pawn of the arhabi via the nearest media outlet.
This is a monumental undertaking. It is worthwhile. It is frustrating and painful. It is at times irritating and annoying. It is good and right. It will take time. No one said it would be easy.