His comments echo the frustration shown in the emails and letters I receive as well as what Pete Hegseth, executive director of Vets For Freedom told me in our exclusive interview. Vets For Freedom is a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who will be on the hill on September 17th and 18th to have their voices heard in the debate regarding Iraq.
Written by Jeff Nuding, who served in 2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Military Intelligence Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division of the N.Y. Army National Guard.
Found in the Daily News:
Dear Senators and Representatives:
You shared in starting this war, now you want to end it, without regard for our progress, or the consequence of defeat?
I served in Iraq two years ago, at your request. We have a saying in the noncommissioned officer corps, "I get my power from Congress." That's you.
As a first sergeant, I led 160 soldiers from a New York Army National Guard military intelligence battalion. When politicos and pundits talk about a surge, men and women like us serve as the vital fluids that form the waves.
We deployed about two-and-a-half years after the initial invasion, which toppled Saddam Hussein and destroyed and scattered his military. My job was to continue that mission. Prepare convoys. Keep my troops focused. Make sure they ate, drank water, got necessary rest. Keep them safe, get them home.
We ran over a hundred convoys. We withstood mortar attacks, a rocket sailed right over our billets, a nearby vehicle-borne improvised explosive device rained car parts and shrapnel down around us. A rocket hit the dining facility, and mortars hit its parking lot. One sailor attached to us, having a late night smoke, lost his legs when a mortar landed at his feet.
We aggressively identified terrorist cells and local area anti-coalition forces for targeting. Our ground surveillance radar guys ran missions with Army scouts in remote areas, survived IEDs and a complex ambush. We came back home knowing there was more job to be done, but we knew we'd done well.
We did our job. Why are you resigned to failure?
Back in 2003, you — including both of my senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton — voted to authorize the President to take military action. You voted, and by virtue of your authority, that means the U.S. government went to war.
You approved the appointment of Gen. David Petraeus, who last week sat in front of your committees and explained the progress of the war and the difficulties of the way ahead. It was an honest and forthright assessment from a soldier who thinks the military can achieve our objectives and that the military can create the environment for real change in Iraq.
Critics seemed to tune him out even before he began. They seem to believe that this war has already been too long and too painful to continue. Sen. Clinton, you rejected Gen. Petraeus' testimony as a "positive view of a grim situation," stating that accepting his testimony at face value required a "willing suspension of disbelief."
I wonder if being a politician means knowing how to call your opponent an opportunist and a liar to his face, without ever stating it plain.
I voted for you in 2000. Could I take that vote back, the way you seem to want to take back your vote to authorize force?
My soldiers know about the long and painful costs of war. All of us left our civilian jobs for a year and a half, and left our families and loved ones behind. Some lost their families or their marriages, and some lost their grip on home or health.
Yet none of us in the military serve under any illusion. We know what we signed up for. That's why so many of us reenlist.
Wars take time. They require steady will and determination. They compel commitment.
If fighting Saddam Hussein, and later Al Qaeda, in Iraq was important when earlier in this mission, they should still be important today. Al Qaeda is badly wounded there and elsewhere, but they aren't dead yet. Iraq is making gains as a democratic nation, but they still need help. They still need time.
Dear Senators and Representatives, you criticize President Bush relentlessly — picking apart the speech he gave last week with withering words, looking for any and every chance to bring him down.
But at least he maintains steady attention to this war. At least he seems to grasp the stakes of losing and the danger of giving up. Not so Congress.
Leaders influence the morale of their people, for good or bad. I wish you wanted to lead your constituents toward victory rather than defeat.
These sentiments, especially about the callous disregard for General Petraeus and his outstanding service to this country and disrespect shown to him by MoveOn.org and Hillary Clinton herself, have been stated by The American Legion.
By Marty Conatser - The American Legion National Commander
When the term “betray” is used to describe any American general not named Benedict Arnold, it gets most people’s attention. When it is used in a New York Times advertisement to describe a brilliant wartime commander with the credentials of David A. Petraeus, it gets the 2.7 million member American Legion’s attention.
I met Gen. Petraeus when I visited Iraq earlier this summer. That I was impressed with this visionary officer is unsurprising and relatively unimportant. What is important is that the men and women serving under Gen. Petraeus believe in him. Their faith in the uniformed Princeton Ph.D. is not misplaced. Petraeus earned a reputation as a counterinsurgency genius early in the Iraq war when he commanded the 101st Airborne Division and basically rebuilt the government infrastructures in Mosul and Ninevah Provinces. As he mentioned in his congressional testimony, sectarian violence in Iraq is down - especially in the once wild Anbar Province. Local tribes are turning on al Qaeda and in many cases cooperating with the coalition. When one senator said Gen. Petraeus's firsthand report required "a willing suspension of disbelief," it seemed to this Midwesterner that it was Washington's way of calling him a liar.
Even so, the libelous attack on a general is not The American Legion’s primary concern about the anti-war movement. Our concern is for the private, the sergeant, the lieutenant and the major. If a distinguished general could be attacked in such a manner, what can the rank-and-file soldier expect when he or she returns home?
At our national convention last month in Reno, nearly 3,000 delegates unanimously passed Resolution 169, codifying The American Legion’s support for the global war on terror. The resolution recalls that Congress authorized the military action in both Iraq and Afghanistan and reminds Americans that you cannot separate the wars from the warriors. With nearly a million Vietnam veterans in our organization, the symbolism of such a resolution is striking. Never again should Americans be tarred as baby-killers, terrorists or criminals for risking their lives so others could be free.
With almost 170,000 American forces in Iraq, there will be some criminal acts from time-to-time. Find me a town anywhere in America with the same population and I promise you will find a higher crime rate than what is seen among our military. Where is the perspective when the headlines repeatedly remind us of those crimes, yet little is written about Army Reserve Capt. Joel Arends, who led a team in Baghdad through fire to rescue Iraqi civilians? And why are the convicted soldiers from Abu Ghraib more famous than Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who sacrificed his life smothering a grenade so that others would live?
As Americans, we all have a duty to speak up when our uniformed heroes are slandered. When a major media outlet accepts advertising revenue to mass produce such slander, we should be outraged. MoveOn.org can write anything it wants to, but the New York Times is not required to publish such libel.
Earlier this year, a presidential candidate called the Global War on terrorism a “bumper sticker.” I can think of 3,000 dead Americans who probably would disagree. “Support the troops,” however, really is a mere bumper sticker if we allow our fellow Americans, the media and our elected leaders to slander their heroism.
Marty Conatser is national commander of the 2.7-million member American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization.
The American Legion supports our troops and the war on terror as well as supports the surge and the progress that is being seen.
RENO, NV, August 31, 2007 - Nearly 6,000 delegates unanimously re-affirmed The American Legion’s support for the war on terrorism during the organization’s 89th National Convention in Reno, Nevada.
“We must continue to stand by the president and advocate for adequate funding for our troops that is not contingent on a set date for troop withdrawal,” said National Commander Paul A. Morin. “Our support of Resolution 169 is unwavering.”
Resolution 169 was first passed at The American Legion’s 87th National Convention in Honolulu and re-affirmed last year in Salt Lake City. It resolves that The American Legion urges all Americans and freedom-loving people stand united in their support of the global war on terrorism and united in their support of the troops. It further resolves that national commander of The American Legion disseminate accurate information to ensure the united support of the American people.
These groups are joined by countless others such as Vets4Victory, Appeal for Courage which is made up of Active Military members, Families United for the troops and their mission who is a grassroots coalition of Gold Star and Blue Star families including some with loved ones in harm's way, Veterans, and Americans who share a deep appreciation for our men and women in uniform and support them in their efforts to make America safer by allowing them to complete their mission., Gathering of Eagles which just stood up to be heard yesterday in massive rallies in support of our troops and their mission along with Move America Forward. These are just a small sample of what our veterans, families of our military and their supporters are telling us.
General Petraeus came and told us of the conditions on the ground, the difficulties and challenges facing us, the progress and success being seen and the President has accepted his recommendations and in his speech made it clear they will be implemented, he reiterated that position in his radio address yesterday morning.
Those "in the know", specifically, General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and our military that are in Iraq or have been Iraq, are telling us that the battle is winnable, progress is being seen, the new strategies are working and there is still much work to be done.
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert said it perfectly which we showed you yesterday
"My faith and trust is in General Petraeus, not in General Pelosi or the 435 members of Congress, The public doesn't have faith in the president or Congress, but do express trust in the generals. When you think about it, we have trusted our generals in the past ... Grant, Eisenhower, George Washington. It has always been hard and the American people had to be patient."
Exactly, the expert is General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker and our military that are there.
Not the media, not the congress and not the senate and most of all, not us, the American people.
We see what the media tells us, we see what the politicians tell us, but we do not see what they experts that live and fight in Iraq are seeing.
If you needed surgery, any type of surgery from minor to major, would you ask your congressman or senator or would you ask a specialist?
If you need your car worked on, would you approach your congressman or senator or would you take it to a garage or mechanic.
If you needed your plumbing worked on, who would you go to?
Even those with military experience that are in the senate or congress have not fought in Iraq so they are not able to give an informed opinion on what is happening in Iraq, they are too worried about politics and their next elections to concern themselves with what is best for the country and our national security.
What on earth makes them think that their knowledge about the conditions on the ground in Iraq can even compare to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker's?
For that matter, what makes any American citizen that has not fought in Iraq think that THEIR knowledge of the conditions in Iraq even compare to those two men?
That is the height of arrogance.
I have to agree with Rep. Reichert, I have much more trust in General Petraeus than I do in General Pelosi or any of the other arm chair generals that think their knowledge and expertise even begin to compare with General Petraeus'.
We will be in Iraq for a long time, maybe not in the numbers we are now and with continued progress and success, even the mission will change and we will simply be a supportive, stabilizing force and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already stated clearly that if Congress and the Senate manage to cobble enough votes together to try to force defeat while we are seeing progress, he would recommend to the President a presidential veto, and considering how hard the senate already is finding it to get their 60 votes, getting 67 to override a veto will be impossible.
General Petraus and our troops are fighting to win a war, one has to wonder why our politicians are doing everything in their power to lose it?
[Update] Unrelated-Just as a matter of interest, Bush met with a group of military bloggers, seems they had a great time.
Tracked back by:
Did John Kerry Listen To These Troops? from Right Voices....