Local veteran concerned about sending troops to fight ISIS

Published 12:13 pm Friday, February 13, 2015

by James Ozols

The White House has indicated the President will seek from Congress an authorization to use force against ISIS. While I like most people view ISIS as an evil force that needs to be dealt with, I caution against sending our armed forces into another war with no true end game, no time limit and failure to address the issue of mission creep. We as a nation need to view this latest foray into military power projection with trepidation. Failure to do so will cost us yet again in blood, national treasure and prestige throughout the world.

Vietnam — I loath to use this as an example since it has been used so many times — but it does have a lesson for us. After the loss of over 58,000 American lives, 153,000 wounded and countless troubled veterans and families who do not receive the support of the nation who sent them to war, what was the end result? We supported a nation which was corrupt and after years of providing the best military training and hardware of the day, they were overrun in a matter of weeks after we left. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution — It seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

Iran, we supported a corrupt and brutal regime for many decades and what was the result? Overthrow of a dictatorial government by a fundamentalist Islamic government in 1979 that to this day supports terrorism around the world. Support for the Shah — It seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

Iraq, the first Gulf War 1991. After the invasion of Kuwait, we invaded Iraq in and defeated their army in short fashion. What was the end result? We spent the next 11 years maintaining a naval, air and economic blockade of the country at the expenditures of billions of dollars. What was the end result of that step? We invaded Iraq again in 2003. We did not support the popular uprising against the Hussein regime. It seemed like a good idea the time, I guess.

Afghanistan 2001, In the aftermath of 9/11 we invaded Afghanistan to expel Al-Qaeda, kill Osama Bin-Laden and The Taliban. After 13 years of war, over 2,300 killed and 20,000 wounded Americans and over $700 Billion dollars; Bin-Laden is dead, the Taliban is still an effective fighting force, and Al-Qaeda is still operating out of the country, although degraded. As we depart that country I fear that it will befall the same fate as Iraq and Vietnam, a failed political environment in which the government and military are corrupt and unable to operate effectively despite our huge sacrifice. We propped up President Kharzi and his cronies. It seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

Iraq (Part II) — eight years of war, over $851 billion dollars expended, we withdraw and what happens? Another failed state, with an inept military surrendering to ISIS in their underwear only to be slaughtered like sheep because they were unwilling to fight for their country. Meanwhile the U.S. Air Force and coalition Air Forces have become the defacto Iraqi Air Force (by the way, how much are they paying us for our services?). Now after less than two years after withdrawal of U.S. combat troops, they want us to come back and fight to act as their defacto army. We kept in power a leader who was more aligned to Iran than us, and disenfranchised a large portion of the population. It seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

What is the common thread throughout all these conflicts? America has taken on the fight on with the “best of intentions” on the behalf of other countries; and where does it end? It ends in failed states that are as corrupt and brutal as the political leadership we replaced. The rise of Islamic radicalism is not an American problem to be solved, but a problem the Muslim countries of the world need to confront head on. Until they are willing to confront the problem in their own backyard, we are wasting American blood and money on a problem that can only be rectified by those most affected by the rise of Islamic radicals — the Middle Eastern Countries. Let Iraqi, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Egypt, Kuwait and the rest of the Middle East take care of their problem. Unless they are willing to expend the blood, national resources and resolve that America has done over the past 30 years; there is nothing we can do to resolve the issues.

Our military has carried out the missions assigned to them with honor and dignity and they have done it with the idea that our government would send them into battle to produce tangible results to keep America safe. This they have done. This is not a failure of military strategy, but a failure of U.S. foreign policy strategy that had bi-partisan support. We are no safer today, than we were on September 10, 2001. I am tired of the United States Armed Forces being used as a proxy military for questionable governments and failed states. I am sorry to say, our elected officials have failed us miserably.

America should support the defeat of ISIS and radical Islam, but should not carry the brunt of the weight.

If our Congress should authorize this fight, there should be limits:

• Authorization to last no more than six months, with reviews to determine if authorization should be extended for no more than six additional months at a time;

• Middle East countries should bear the brunt of the fight with our support and training;

• Transparency — an unfettered report to the American public on the cost and results of efforts towards the war;

• No combat ground troops;

• Lethal weapons only to legitimate players in the region;

• Review the effects of decreased benefits to military members after 13 years of war and during on-going conflicts.

JAMES OZOLS of Courtland is a retired U.S. Navy Limited Duty Officer who currently works as a defense contractor.