Theodore's World: U.S. Troops Hope Afghanistan Sacrifices Not In Vain

« Obama's Health Care that Is NOT Healthy for Anyone! | Main | W.H. Tells Congress That 'Czars' Won't Testify »

October 27, 2009

U.S. Troops Hope Afghanistan Sacrifices Not In Vain

Army Sgt. 1st Class Teresa R. Coble, 27, of Germantown, with the 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Bragg, N.C., continues to work while in a bunker at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan on Thursday, during the second rocket attack in a week.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Teresa R. Coble

U.S. troops hope Afghanistan sacrifices not in vain

Doubts, determination to finish mission fill days

The Washington Times

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan

The sirens blared as a Taliban rocket attack rattled troops across Kandahar Air Field for the second time last week.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Teresa R. Coble and other members of her unit at the base's media-support center hit the floor, lay flat on the dusty cement and protected their heads with their hands. Later, the unit moved to cement-reinforced bunkers until the all-clear sounded.

While the Obama administration debates whether to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and Afghans prepare to vote for president for the second time in four months, some of those already braving rockets and bombs worry that their mission has lost the support of the U.S. public and that their sacrifices - and those of their fallen comrades - have been in vain.

"What about the troops who died giving their lives for this mission?" Sgt. Coble asked as she waited for the rocket alert to finish.

By next August, Sgt. Coble, 27, from Germantown, will have served more than 30 months combined in Iraq and Afghanistan, far from her only child, five-year-old Troy Davis.

"We would not be honoring the lives of the troops who died if we left here without finishing our mission, and many troops are concerned that the American people have forgotten why we came here to begin with," she said.
"If we left Afghanistan right now, its equivalent to somebody going up to help a rape victim, engaging in a fight to help that rape victim, then giving up because they didnt want to get hurt themselves and allowing that rape to continue," she said. "Because essentially thats what the Afghan population is: They are victims, and we need to follow through with what we promised."

Others interviewed by The Times were less supportive of the eight-year war and less certain that adding more U.S. forces would defeat a tenacious and growing Taliban insurgency or reduce corruption in the Afghan government. Several asked not to be named so that they could voice their opinions candidly without retribution from their superiors.

One young soldier, who had arrived at Kandahar Air Field from a forward operating base along the Pakistan-Afghan border, said his unit had suffered a number of casualties.

"I used to believe in what we were doing here," the soldier said. "I'm not too sure anymore. It's just we don't know what the endgame is. We've been getting hit hard out here. What are we here to win? I have to believe that what Gen. [Stanley M.] McChrystal is doing is going to work.But who knows how long that will last before someone else decides to change the game plan again? I mean, do the people in Washington even remember we're here?"

Others said they had difficulty working with some members of the Afghan National Army, which they described as disorganized and in some cases untrustworthy. Gen. McChrystal, the commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, seeks to increase the size and quality of the Afghan army as the mainstay for Afghan security in the future.

"I don't trust them," said one U.S. soldier who said he had worked closely with Afghan military personnel during multiple tours in Afghanistan. "They make it impossible for us, and we have to work around it. I understand that we're trying to aid the Afghans in securing their own country, but we're up against some of the worst corruption I've ever known. It puts our lives in danger."

In Kabul, Army Maj. Pedro Espinoza said he supported Gen. McChrystal's plans and believed in the mission despite its difficulties.

"I have hope in what we're doing here," Maj. Espinoza said, as he donned armor in preparation for the short ride from International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters to Kabul airport. "Look, if I didn't have hope, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. It's as simple as that."

Polish Col. Jacek Rolak, who was also in the convoy, wasn't as hopeful. He joked with Maj. Espinoza and said he was grateful to be leaving Afghanistan.

"I'm not too sure things will work out the way we would like," Col. Rolak said. " I'm not sure what's going to happen, or how good any strategy is in Afghanistan. Guess we just wait and see."

U.S. troops here deal daily with death and injury, seeing comrades hurt and watching flag-draped coffins go through forward operating bases on their final trip home.

Many are also haunted by the faces of Afghan people the U.S. is trying to help.

In Kabul, Army Pvt. 2nd Class Logan Purtlebaugh sent e-mails to her family from the comfort of her bunk bed. Her Myrtle Beach pink blanket, books strewn on her bed and periodic breaks to brush her long, blond hair made the 19-year-old seem more like a university student in a dorm than a soldier in a barracks. The young chaplain's assistant with the 82nd Airborne, 4th Brigade, at Camp Lindsey, not far from Kandahar Air Field, was on a nine-day break in the Afghan capital.

The policy debate back in Washington was not on the mind of this soldier from Bloomington, Ind.

Instead, she was thinking about the accidental death of an Afghan child she recently had witnessed in Kandahar.

"It's the first time I'm dealing with death," said Pvt. Purtlebaugh, who is on her first deployment. "I'll never forget what happened."

She folded down her laptop and stared into the darkness.

"He ran out in front of the MRAP [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle], and there was no time for the driver to stop," she said. "The little boy's head was decapitated. It was horrible for everybody involved. Especially for the family of the boy."

The young victim "seemed to be about the same age as my seven-year-old sister, Madison Purtlebaugh," she said. "I really miss home, but this is where I want to be. I believe in the Afghan people. I have hope despite everything."

Sgt. Coble urged Americans to think about the sacrifices U.S. troops have made in Aghanistan and the consequences of narrowing the mission before it has more time to succeed.
"We're not just numbers," she said. "I'm not going to say morale is high with everything going on at home. We're here for a reason. This is not a draft military. When people go out on the streets in America and say, 'Bring our troops home,' it infuriates me. Don't go out there talking about bringing our troops home, let us decide when to come back home. We're here because we want our children, my son, to have a safer world, and we know the risks."

Morale dips for American Marines in Afghanistan

A mile from South Station, an outpost of US marines in Helmand province, the tribal chief was openly hostile. “The Americans threaten our economy and take our land for bases. They promise much and deliver nothing,” he said.

“People here regard the American troops as occupiers,” said Haji Khan, a leader of the Baluch tribe, who rules like a medieval baron. “Young people are turning against them and in time will fight them.”

Inside South Station, soldiers are proud of the progress they have made. Until they arrived, this remote part of Helmand had not had a government presence for years. But many are pessimistic about where the conflict is heading.

“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
A New Yorker who joined the marines after 9/11 and served two tours in Iraq, Richardson, 24, said his men had achieved much. “You can see we are making progress, slowly. But when we leave, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda will surely return.”

With enough effort, resources and time, the marines are confident the population can be won over. But, with the platoon’s influence limited to a small area around their base, many soldiers wonder if the Taliban and Al-Qaeda may simply outlast them, or if the US and Afghan governments have the resolve to send enough troops to win.

Third Platoon, Charlie Company of the 2nd Light Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion, came last July to Khan Neshin, as far south as Nato soldiers have reached in Afghanistan. It was part of a summer offensive by more than 4,500 troops of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which has joined British and other forces trying to turn the war in Helmand.

Although they have read the manuals on counterinsurgency and heard generals speak about how to defeat the Taliban, the reality has been bloody, painful and frustrating.

The platoon knows there are at least 20 booby-trapped bombs on the high ground around the base. More than half the men have already been caught in blasts. One marine explosive expert was killed; others suffered broken legs and amputated feet. Three have survived two explosions and come back to fight again.

General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, says the mission is to protect the population and isolate them from the Taliban, but the marines are finding it no easier to defeat the Taliban than it has been for the British, who have fought in the province for three years. Villagers are rarely willing to express a simple opinion, let alone inform soldiers where the enemy is hiding. One marine described the way the Taliban blended with the population as “unbelievably frustrating”.

In terrain crisscrossed by canals with weak and narrow bridges, the platoon has to approach villages on foot. Even when they have surrounded the Taliban, the marines have found the enemy has an uncanny ability to slip away in the ditches. All this adds to the strain of facing improvised explosive devices, which are the main threat.

“We are all brothers here,” said Lance-Corporal Corey Hopkins, 22, from Georgia. “And it hurts to see your brother hurt or put him in a bag for the last time. It pisses you off. It makes you mad. You know people out here know what’s going on, but they won’t tell you.”

The marines hope to open a school and provide medical facilities. They are also offering to pay Khan and others to provide jobs to improve the canal system.

Later, a marine intelligence officer said the drug economy and the feudal system made the strategy of winning hearts and minds extremely complex. As drug producers, men such as Khan had a “working relationship with the Taliban”.


Wild Thing's comment..........

This treatment of our troops by Obama as their CIC is absolutely unacceptable, all the while Zero touts his latest idea, “muslim technology fund”. Unbelievable, and UNFORGIVABLE.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:48 AM


LBJ & BHO "Where have all the flowers gone....?"
This is an instant replay of LBJ's administration all over again. - DE JA VU 1969 / 2009!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtou07 at October 27, 2009 09:22 AM

Darth,unfortunately, I think you are right.

The only difference here, is that the general population still holds the images of the planes crashing into the WTC. They are seeing this capitulation and are refusing to buy in.

In 1969, there had been no direct attack on the country. Again unfortunately, the media and the Administration, of course, wants to minimize 9/11, and the fact that the Radical Muslim factions are out to destroy our way of life and eventually Our Country.

In a way this Administration(?), is aiding and abetting that cause with their Domestic Agenda.

Posted by: SEAN. at October 27, 2009 11:09 AM

During the election obama talked about Afghanistan as though he understood it.Now that it has become his responsibility, he shows confusion and indecison. It doesn't figure into his communist friendly and muslim friendly scheme of things. Meantime he is flying all over the country campaigning for other radical democrats while US troops bleed and die.

Posted by: TomR at October 27, 2009 11:40 AM

Ah, but that great Vietnam war hero, John Band-Aid Kerry has assumed the role of Afghanistan-Iraq War Czar and is bringing sense and reason to it all. I had thought that Kerry would be named Secretary of Defense but this morning I remembered my one-time hero, Dick Nixon, and how he handled the Agnew situation. Joe Biden will soon resign for health reasons and Kerry will be appointed Vice-President. I have lived too long.

Posted by: horace at October 27, 2009 01:32 PM

Oh, and help me out here. Are you mentally ill if you're completely paranoid but you know it and don't deny it. But then again, who says it can't get worse? I have outlived all my personal enemies. They say living well is the best revenge but I say outliving them is the best revenge. Now I have a new list of people I want to outlive but I'm a lot older than them and have high blood pressure which is not helped by this Administration in the WH.

Posted by: horace at October 27, 2009 01:46 PM

The difference being in '69 the enemy was content to kill Americans and their own countrymen inside the confines of the dimensions of the Asian theater with a wholesale blood bath after '73, thanks to Congress. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the Muzzie has no bounds, simply stopping and playing Kings X won't keep them from attacking even closer to home. So in reality who is the defined enemy? Maybe Dingy Harry can tell us!!! Anyone here think that Iran will share that peaceful nuclear energy with us? Eh Bibi? Spot on Horace:)

Posted by: Jack at October 27, 2009 02:11 PM

Horace, my wife has the same problem. Had to go on bp pills this summer. The 2nd amendment may save us from this socialist nightmare. That may be the one thing that trips them up.

Posted by: Jim at October 27, 2009 04:34 PM

Darth, yes it sure is DE JA VU.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:16 PM

SEAN, yes and I hope oh I hope so much
the public never forgets about 9-11.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:19 PM

Tom, it sickens me how he is out there
campaigning when our troops are being
killed and want more troops and also
it effects their morale to see him
putting off what needs to be done asap.


Posted by: Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:22 PM

Horace, yes I have read that Biden is sinking
fast in the polls. I know how you feel

Deep heavy sigh, this is so hard to go through.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:25 PM

Jack your right, they in so many
places around the world. A lot of
people don't even know we have troops
in other places besides Iraq and Afghanistan
fighting the Taliban.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:27 PM

Jim, it is all the stress of all of this.
I think it is getting to a lot of people
we can't fight back and release the anger
and emotions other then to rant.

I hope the 2nd Amend. stops them, I pray so.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 27, 2009 06:30 PM

John Rambo said it best: "Do we get to win this time?"

Posted by: Anonymous at October 27, 2009 07:12 PM

First of all, LBJ QUIT on us. We didn't quit on him. That son of a bitch just friggin quit, but this asshole, can make up his mind what the fuck he's doing over there and our troops are getting it shoved up their asses again.

I thought the reason we went there was to get al queda, now we are playing nursemaid to a bunch of civilians creating jobs, excuse me, send in the UN for that, our job is to kill the bastards. That was the original intent. This jerkoff has changed the rules and they are in the enemie's favor. The 'poppy trade' is flourishing and we do nothing about it. Napalm the damn poppy fields that will bring the bastard's to their knees in a hurry.

The only way to win this thing is to make it so uncomfortable for them that they will want to give up and quit. And getting rid of their cash crop is the best way to do it.

He said yesterday at NAVAIRSTA. Jacksonville, he wouldn't send troops in harms way unless absolutely necessary. Well, jerkoff, you already got about 200,000 troops in harms way. They need help and this useless SOB, won't do the job that is the most important to the Security of this country.

Posted by: Mark at October 27, 2009 07:37 PM

I read today that the reason we are in Afghanistan is to keep the Pakistani nuclear weapons (30-40) out of the hands of Al-Qaeda, although the writer had no idea how we could do that without invading Pakistan.

In 1974 I invented Horace's Law for government projects.

1. The project will take twice as long as promised.
2. It will cost twice as much as promised.
3. The reason for doing it will change during its execution.
4. Before it is finished it will no longer be needed.

Nothing changes.

Posted by: horace at October 27, 2009 07:53 PM