I'm appalled at the idea of the Syrian regime using chemical weapons on civilians too, but I'm scared shitless of Syria turning into another mess like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Doesn't anyone remember that Sadam's use of chemical weapons on his own people in the past was one of the reasons that the bush administration used to justify the 2003 war in Iraq? Was that war and the estimated 100,000 - 1,000,000+ dead civilians and $1 trillion wasted worth it?
I made many of the points in this thread in a post that I made in another thread, but I thought it was worthwhile to post this as a thread in its own right. Anything war related tends to get buried in the rear echelons of this forum. Most people are happy to ignore war and don't want to talk about it.
Before anyone is eager to send our military to fight in anyone's mess we need to know exactly what it is we are sending our Soldiers into and we all need to own it. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. We'll rally at the inhumanity and cry for the use of deployment of our war machine to Syria for a week, the government will do it, then we'll forget about it when the season finale for dancing with the stars or the voice comes up. We as a country will forget about what is going on in Syria and glance over what our military is doing on the ground and how it is impacting our Soldiers.
War turns nice people into evil people. Having been through it first hand myself (I served as an Infantry Platoon Leader in Iraq for 13 months in Iraq in 2004) I've experienced it first hand. Once you start shooting and killing people, it gets easier to do. Once you find yourself comfortable with committing murder what do you suppose that does to a person's moral compass?
When we hear stories of Soldiers posing with bodies of Taliban fighters like they were hunting trophies or videos of Soldiers pissing on the dead surface, we shouldn't be shocked. It's not natural to kill anyone. Having been through that experience myself, it makes you feel like shit regardless of the circumstance or how "justified" you are told it is. And, as much as I like to think that I'm a good person, the honest truth is it only got easier to do it the more the war went on. As soon as you can find yourself easily committing the ultimate transgression what stops you from committing any others? I'm probably doing a great job getting myself the "DU biggest piece of shit" moniker, but the only reason I didn't piss on the body of or pose with the body of a person I killed was because I didn't think of it - and that is the honest truth.
I don't know exactly what circumstances would make war an appropriate option or what a justified military response would be. I'm in the throws of trying to figure out my own anti-war stance and a lot of my positions on the subject is contradictory. However, my biggest sticking point with war is that the media needs to stop sterilizing it. We as a country would be more opposed to war if we understood exactly what it entailed in its full detail. It's just like the average American eating meat. Since most of us are removed from the process that brings us meat, it is easy for us to eat. However, if we all had to go into our backyards and butcher our own cow and take its life with our own hands, I bet many people wouldn't be able to stomach it. The same holds true to war. It's easy to support a war when you are thousands of miles away and you see the clean shrink-wrapped version presented to you by the media but it isn't easy to support a war when you actually have the blood on your hands and you are involved in it.
The media needs to show the dead women and children and report all of the atrocities that happen. The media needs to show the flag draped coffins and the gory images of the mangled dead that is produced. If we can stomach making the decision to send troops into harms way, then we need to stomach the gory details of what the decision fully entails. I know that at some point I need to get over myself, but the personal pain and images that I endure as a result of my war time service needs to be on the conscious of every American who supported the war. Every American who supported the war should have a picture of a mangled child's dead body front and center in their living room. They should have to face that image constantly during every moment of their life and it should haunt them just as much as it haunts the Soldier who killed that child and the family that lost that child. When they are sitting on the floor opening birthday presents with their child on an otherwise happy day, images of a dying 10 year old with a sucking chest wound and his shocked 6 year old little brother and three handcuffed uncles should be front and center in their mind. The parent should have to look at their shocked 4 year old daughter and explain why they are crying on their birthday.
If it wasn't for the support for the war at home there wouldn't have been a war. Everybody would be hard pressed to support any war if they knew the full scope of the violence that will be committed in their name.
Even though I fought in Iraq, I never for a second believed in Iraq or that it was justified on any level.
As far as wars go, I liked the way Libya went. The majority of Libyan citizens were eager for NATO involvement (as was most of the Arab world). It's amazing how different things turn out when you have the cooperation and support of the people you are "helping" and the rest of the world. Obama was able to accomplish in Libya in a matter of a couple of months and $896 million what bush wasn't able accomplish in Iraq with nearly a decade of war and $1 trillion. Syria, if chemical weapons were used, would be justified in my mind.
Having been through a war myself, I've developed very strong anti-war inclinations. However, as much as I hate war and I think it is criminal in nature, I'm not going to pretend that there aren't situations in which it is justified to deploy our troops. Interventions to stop the scope of violence from escalating like Bosnia/Kosovo and (although it never happened) Rwanda would have been justified. Those are/would be the sorts of military missions that would make me proud for how our troops have been used by the government.
However, my biggest sticking point with war is that the media needs to stop sterilizing it. They need to show the dead women and children and report all of the atrocities that happen. The media needs to show the flag draped coffins and the gory images of the mangled dead that is produced. If we can stomach making the decision to send troops into harms way, then we need to stomach the gory details of what the decision fully entails. I know that at some point I need to get over myself, but the personal pain and images that I endure as a result of my war time service needs to be on the conscious of every American who supported the war. Every American who supported the war should have a picture of a mangled child's dead body front and center in their living room. They should have to face that image constantly during every moment of their life and it should haunt them just as much as it haunts the Soldier who killed that child and the family that lost that child. After all, if it wasn't for the support for the war at home there wouldn't have been a war.
War is messed up and it brings the worst out of people who otherwise seem to be the best people we have. When we hear stories of Soldiers posing with bodies of Taliban fighters like they were hunting trophies or videos of Soldiers pissing on the dead surface, we shouldn't be shocked. It's not natural to kill anyone. Having been through that experience myself, it makes you feel like shit regardless of the circumstance or how "justified" you are told it is. And, as much as I like to think that I'm a good person, the honest truth is it only got easier to do it the more the war went on. As soon as you can find yourself easily committing the ultimate transgression what stops you from committing any others? I'm probably doing a great job getting myself the "DU piece of shit" moniker, but the only reason I didn't piss on the body of or pose with the body of a person I killed was because I didn't think of it - and that is the honest truth.
People just need to be aware of the full scope of what their support for a war entails. Again, I'm not saying that there isn't such a thing as a justified war, but all wars are nasty. Our media does humanity a huge disservice by not accurately reporting it. It's just like the average American eating meat. Since most of us are removed from the process that brings us meat, it is easy for us to eat. However, if we all had to go into our backyards and butcher our own meat, I bet many people wouldn't be able to stomach it. The same holds true to war. It's easy to support a war when you are thousands of miles away and you see the clean shrink-wrapped version presented to you by the media but it isn't easy to support a war when you actually have the blood on your hands and you are involved in it.
But put your thought a little more eloquently that I would have.
The first paragraph that you wrote sounds exactly like me. Im proud of my service in many ways but, at the same time, Im appalled and ashamed of it. Trying to describe what my military service means to me is a very complicated and muddy thing.
Watching the events unfold in the Middle East right now on TV is a hard thing. I know that Im far removed from the seemingly looming war over there, but at the same time Im envious that I will be sitting this one out. Im happy that Im out of the military and that everything is in the past, but I feel a yearning to return to war. The things that upset me and appall me the most are exactly the things that I miss. No, maybe not the feelings of losing a friend or even the feeling of seeing a guy from the opposite side of my sights fall, but I miss the feelings of excitement surrounding the danger and the feeling of a rifle in my hand.
I think that this has a lot to do with my PTSD and a sense of worthlessness that I (and probably other veterans) feel. When I was in the Army I was at my prime. I was in the best shape of my life and I was able to accomplish anything I wanted to. I returned home, got out of the Army and attempted to start my civilian life and I find that things like holding a job, driving in traffic, ordering food at a fast food restaurant, and even remembering to bathe and change my clothes every day van be a struggle.
I never look down or think less of anyone who says that they tried to avoid fighting in a war. Having been there and experienced war first hand, I know that it is an experience that I wouldnt wish on anyone.
In short, the insight that combat veterans provide to war is a valuable one, but that was already mentioned above.
Pinboy3niner, thanks for your post. I enjoy reading and listening to what you have to say. If I'm not mistaken, I believe that you were also an Infantry Platoon Leader like me (albeit in different wars). I wish that someone like you would have talked to me before I set out on my military career. The fact that you were a volunteer (like me) for the profession also speaks a lot to me. The feelings that you write about and what you say really does a lot for validating my own feelings and thoughts. Again, thanks.
most veterans, like most people in the military, aren't in direct combat functions in the recent wars. It's one thing to be involved in a war from miles away from the actual action, but it is totally different to be within small-arms range or closer to a person that you are being asked to kill. It's totally different when you actually hear the sounds and see the sights of a person that you shot dying when you find their mangled bodies after the firefight is over and go search the area for dead and wounded. It's easy to feel proud for what you did in the war when you don't have any real connection to what you did.
I've never seen or met a combat veteran who supported or liked war. As a result, the most vehement anti-war folks tend to be combat veterans. They've been there, they've done it, and they completely understand how messed up war is.
I post a lot on a conservative forum and usually my post lean hard towards the anti-war direction. I get called out for being unpatriotic and, it is often said to me that I should be like most "honorable" combat vets and keep my mouth shut about what I did in the war. To me, that is dangerous and is misleading. It gives people the false impression that I did something glorious or some great patriotic service to our country by doing what I did in Iraq. The veterans who have never experienced combat first hand (and who never developed a distaste for it) stand up and waive the flag like they are some sort of hero and proclaim how glorious war and military intervention is. The media and our government officials focus on terms like "surgical strike" to mislead the public into thinking that nobody is unnecessarily killed in combat. Our government bans the media coverage of caskets returning from the war and images of war mangled bodies being thrown into the spotlight on the news.
It's easy to believe that war is a glorious and patriotic function when all you see are impressive images of military strength, shiny uniforms, and high-tech equipment. The only images of the Iraqis that you see are those of smiling and cheering children and harmless looking adults. The American public doesn't see the mangled children and heartbroken parents that this war produces.
Again, I've never seen or met a combat veteran who supported or liked war. Those who have actually been there and experienced it want to be the furthest they can be away from it.
I hate being thanked for my service when anyone finds out that I'm a veteran. If people knew what I did, I doubt they'd be thanking me for anything.
My wife and kids did something that really upset me yesterday (veterans day). My wife meant well, but she had my oldest daughter (who is 4) come over to me and say "happy veterans day, daddy". I have a lot of mixed feelings about the war and what I want my kids to know. Actually, I don't think they are mixed at all. I don't want them to know a thing about it. I would prefer that they never knew I was in the Army I and I don't want them to make the connection that I was ever in a place where I shot and killed anyone. I don't want to have to explain any of that to my kids and I don't want to hear their questions about why I did what I did. It wasn't justified and the people of Iraq weren't a threat to us. I don't want them to think that I was some sort of a murdering machine or a monster and I don't want their perception of me as a kind and loving person spoiled by what I was a part of in the past. Fortunately, at age 4, my daughter has no concept of what war is or that someone could be capable of killing another person. I'm not ready for that one and I have no idea how to deal with it when she figures it out.
Sorry, I turn everything into a conversation about the war. I guess it just shows how much it is constantly on my mind.
I see Army latrines haven't progressed much since Vietnam. Notice the fuel containers to the left of the stalls.
We cut 50 gallon drums in half, put in some JP8 (fuel) and called it a bathroom! When the buckets got full, we burned it.
Above is a picture of me having my turn at burning our shit.
It invariably comes down to the children on both sides who suffer the most.
My wife used to work as a special education aid in the DOD elementary school in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Some of the kids of the Soldiers who deployed to Iraq had some terrible issues as a result of having a parent in the war. They were messed up because of their emotional stress and as a direct result of their parent(s) PTSD issues. Some of the stories about some of the kids my wife worked with were extremely sad to me. These kids probably only have "light" issues compared to the Iraqi kids who grew up during the war. I couldn't imagine my kids having to grow up and facing the constant danger of going to school.
I was in Baqubah for a year in 2004. We used to see kids playing soccer in the fields around the city and its outlying communities all the time. One time in particular I remember a group of gunmen pulled up to a group of kids playing soccer and slaughtered them all when I was there. What the hell do the kids have to do with it? We we always scared that gunmen would do the same to the schools, but fortunately that never happened.
Fallujah and the poisoning is another topic altogether. Operation Phantom Fury kicked off almost 8 years ago to the day today. I was almost drawn into the fight, but my platoon was assigned to a different battalion during the assault on Fallujah. If you do any reading or if you have ever come across the book "house to house" by David Belavia (he was put in for a medal of honor as a result of his service in Fallujah), he was in my company. I was the platoon leader of second platoon that wasn't there. I don't regret not being there at all.
George Bush and his cronies need to be held accountable for what they did to Iraq. The war in Iraq needs to be the point of national shame and disgrace that it is/was.
Anyways, I'm done with my rant.
Victor G. Philippi
CPT, IN (former)
Like you loosely touched on above, I don't know how any combat veteran could vote for a republican. I haven't been able to find a poll about this, but I would love to see the party affiliation of "combat" vets and those who actually got shot at in the line of duty versus "non-combat" vets or guys who served in the Airforce or Navy or your non combat jobs in the Army.
Only about 15% of todays Army is made up of actual Infantry. Not counting the non-infantry guys who do deal with combat (i.e your tankers, artillerymen, combat engineers, MPs,...) most of the Army and military serves in a combat support role and is never placed in direct combat. It's not even close to being the same thing if you are stationed on a super-FOB and to have mortars impact on the base a few thousand meters from you. Yup, you might have to put down your burger king whopper that you just bought from the PX while you put on your kevlar helmet
When you actually go out on patrol and deal first hand with the results of your weapons fire you gain a completely different outlook on war. It's one thing to fly around in an airplane and drop bombs on a target that is 30,000+ feet below, but it is a completely different thing to actually see the person that you are shooting in your sights, squeeze the trigger, and watch them drop. After the firefight is over you also get to enjoy the wonderful experience of recovering the dead and wounded.
I wonder how many bodies and their parts Romney had to stuff into body bags when he was in France. How many dead or dying people did he come across? The most upsetting incident to me when I was in Iraq was finding a child that had errantly been shot during one of our firefights. I have no idea if he survived, but he was still alive when I found him. I did what I could and I did what I thought was the best at the time, but I have a lot of regrets for what I did. We were able to get him on a helicopter easily within 15 minutes of me finding him. I could and should have done more for the boy's family than I did.
Did mit really experience the same feelings of glory and overwhelming sense of patriotism when he watched adults and children die as a result of his actions? I wonder if mit wakes up having nightmares of his service in France all keyed up and ready to go on patrol and murder anyone who is crazy enough to attack him. I wonder if mit, when he goes out into public, gets the same weird tingle in his right hand when he realizes that he isn't holding the pistol grip of his rifle that I get. I wonder if he walks around walmart with his right hand tucked into his side and twitching his thumb as if he was moving the selector switch from "safe" to "semi" on his rifle.
I wonder how often mit find himself trapped in the memories of his service in France or how often he experiences a PTSD panic attack. Like me and Iraq, I bet he constantly thinks that the hardest part of his life was coming home from France. I bet he secretly wishes that he could leave his wife and kids and go back to France to die. Yup, probably like me, he misses the feelings of combat. He misses wearing his body armor, 4 grenades, 210 rounds of 5.56 ball ammunition, and carrying a rifle. He misses the feeling of danger, the sounds and excitement of combat, and the feeling of murder that I miss.
Then I bet he snaps out of it, finds himself a stammering, shaking, and crying mess and realizes that he has to come to terms with being a shadow of what he once was. I went from being in charge of 40+ Soldiers in combat, being in excellent shape, and being able to do and deal with anything to being a scrawny emotional wreck that I am today. I can hardly do things like go out into public places without turning into a basket case or pay my bills on time (not because I don't have the money, I just can't deal with writing checks or calling people on the phone to pay them). I have problems communicating and relating to my wife and kids and, if it wasn't for my boss and coworkers pitty, I could hardly keep a job.
Yup, I pretty sure that mit experienced the same things that I did (and Vietnam Vets did) when he "served" his country in France. We certainly should be grateful for "men" like mit
Maybe it's some insecurity on my part, but I kind of feel like I'm going to be perceived as a "whiny bitch" by veterans and guys who've gone through things similar to me when I talk about my experiences and struggles.
Writing and getting my story out there is something I'm getting very serious about. I've bounced the idea around my head for a while and the time for thinking about it is done. I just need to start doing it and let things fall in order. The more I tell people I'm actually going to write a book, the more I'm committing myself to getting it done.
Even if it doesn't amount to anything I'll at least have a narrative to pass on to my family that will answer some of their questions about what I did in the war. My grandfather was an infantryman in WWII and I know almost nothing about what he did. He never talked about it to my father or to me and he died about 14 years ago, before I was able to really ask him some serious questions. There is a hole in me for not having some of those answers.
Hey, if I ever get my book finished and published I'll be sure to keep an eye out for you and a few other guys. I keep an eye out for your posts and those of a few others on this forum. Trust me, I won't forget who you are. I've fallen in love with the community on this forum and I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon.
I found this story here:
by Dan Griffin
It was several years after I came home from Vietnam, and the family was about to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister Ritas house when she said, you have to see this now. I asked her if it could wait until after we ate dinner; she said no you have to see this now. She
had this very serious look on her face and a solemn tone to her voice. So I said to myself, Id better listen to her. We went into her bedroom; I sat on the bed while she reached into a dresser drawer and pulled out a stack of letters with a red ribbon tied around them. Rita said, these are all of the letters you wrote to me while you were in Vietnam.
She said that the letters were in order from the first to the last and she wanted me to read them now and in that order. Rita and I are very close; as a matter of fact she was the only one of my brothers and sisters that I wrote to. Rita closed the door and left me alone to read the letters.
I sat on the bed; the letters were open in a stack. I took off the red ribbon and looked at the first one; it was four pages, with large flowing words describing the beautiful countryside. I wrote about the friendly kids and the lifestyle of an exotic people. Each letter after that became shorter and shorter. They went from four pages to three, then two, then one. The letters became darker; not just the subject matter but also the handwriting became darker as if I was bearing down harder on the pencil. I didnt write about beauty any longer, just death. I would write about the heat and the filth; things like; my friend John Nurse was burned
to death today. The very last letter was just a couple of lines and it looked like I wrote with the pencil in my fist, very dark, like I was bearing down very hard on the paper. I wrote; I cant wait to get out of here, I hate this place.
When I finished reading, I placed the letters on the bed; I felt alone. The room was silent. I could hear my family talking from the dining room and smell the turkey dinner. I realized why Rita had shown me the letters; she was showing me how much I had changed from when I first
got to Vietnam and what I am like now. I left the letters on the bed and walked out to the dining room. My family was seated at the large table, eating. No one looked up, I sat down and a couple of times my sister and I exchanged glances, but we never spoke about the letters again.
I read this and the first thing that popped into my mind was "holy shit! That was me when I was in Iraq!"
I stopped calling home and would just send brief emails home every couple of days to let people know that I was still alive. I went several months where I just couldn't bear to call home and talk to my future wife (fiance at the time) or my parents. I became a very dark person and I started to wish and hope that I'd die in Iraq rather than go home. I felt like I had nothing to go home to.
The worst part about the feeling is that, after being out of Iraq almost 8 years, a big part of me wants nothing more than to go back to the war and never come home. Returning home has been the hardest part of the war for me to deal with.
Anyways, I found this story when I did a google search about veterans writing workshops. I've had a crazy idea bouncing around my head for a while that I'd like to write a book about the war and I have no idea where to begin. Anyways, I found this and I thought it was worth sharing.
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