Betrayal - A Soldier's Perspective

Imagine a full year of your life devoted to accomplishing a single goal, and seeing others make the supreme sacrifice to do so. Imagine seeing that mission betrayed by the very people who you saved.


This perspective offered for any who have ever discussed our Country's involvement in overseas conflicts AND wants true insight into whatever debate there may have been or is yet to come. This is not from a politician, bureaucrat, or activist; it is personal and from my son Chris, a combat veteran who commanded troops and was directly involved.

I am confident that you will learn more about our military involvement from this one passage than from all the hot air, bluster, bravado, and commentary you have heard to date. While this one "Soldier's Story" is most personal for Chris and our family, he agreed that it was one that needed to be told.

Then a 1st Lieutenant and platoon leader, Chris' 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne deployed in the summer of 2009 to Farah Province in Afghanistan. Farah was one of the most insecure areas in the relatively peaceful west, and Chris and the men of "C" Troop, 4-73 Cavalry, were assigned the unenviable and difficult task of clearing out the Taliban from a place that no one ever imagined them leaving.

Their assault on the provincial city of Shewan broke the back of the Taliban, and brought much needed medical help and supplies to a beleaguered populace. Over that year of deployment, these brave soldiers stabilized the region, losing forty of their own doing so. A successful mission by any measure.

When Chris and his comrades fought in this operation in Shewan, our family lived through it stateside, hoping for both a successful mission and his safe return. With God's help, we realized both.

Yesterday, we learned the unthinkable; the BBC reported an Afghan police commander and 13 junior officers joined the Taliban in the western Afghan province of Farah, in what correspondents say could be the biggest defection by police. The men are said to have taken heavy weaponry, radios and police vehicles including US-made armored Humvees.

"Long before the commander defected, he must have been passing intelligence and crucial information to the insurgents," an official stated.  The province has a strategic position, bordering Iran, and the key Kandahar-Herat highway passes through Farah, which is now seeing increasing levels of violence.

I can only imagine the pain, the sense of betrayal, those who served in this operation felt. Chris offered the following perspective which begins to detail that “Soldier's Story":  

"For my civilian friends: To put how this feels into perspective for you, imagine taking an entire year of your life, and devoting it to accomplishing a single goal. Imagine you and the best people you know pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into a cause. Picture endless dismounted patrols in the hot sun, in sandstorms, dust, mud, with 75 to 120 pounds of equipment, often three times a day on less than five hours sleep. Envision spending countless hours training and equipping a people to fight their aggressors, and standing side-by-side with them in doing so.

Now, picture that after all of that work, and all of the broken hearts and broken families that resulted from it, you wake up one day and discover that the goal you were working towards has been crushed. Now, you might be able to understand the impact of this article on anyone from C Troop, 4-73 Cavalry, and the men who fought before, after, and alongside us.

For my former Soldiers: Despite how this might feel for you (and it might feel completely different for each one of you), it does not minimize what we did together. We cleared the Taliban from a place that no one ever imagined them leaving, even if only for a time. We demonstrated that men from diverse backgrounds working together can overcome the most austere and dangerous conditions.

We left it all on the field, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. When we are all grandparents, we can still proudly speak of the sacrifice that was put into a noble cause, and of the fight we took to the enemy in the name of freedom and in response to the worst attack on our nation in its history."

This is real, true, and should make each and every one of us demand politicians clearly define the implementation and expectation of our mission before we commit the lives of our real 1% ... the heroic men and women of our Armed Forces. We should not expect these warriors to accomplish a mission, spilling their blood to do that, only to see those sacrifices betrayed. All that said as a proud yet somewhat frustrated military Dad, I am most proud of the fact that I know each and every one of Chris' comrades feel the same way he does, and will hold their head high with the knowledge that yes, they answered the bell when their nation called. We are all blessed to have them and all those who served before them.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike Hirsch July 26, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Thank you for that Ed. You must be very proud of your son. Hopefully we have finally learned that nation building should begin at home.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day July 26, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Thank you, Mike, and yes I am, not only of Chris but all those young people we are so graced and blessed to have among us. Clarity is important on all fronts, especially when our best and bravest are asked to put their lives on the line for the mission.
Michael N. Hull July 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Ed: In the 1960s working in the Electronics Command I learned how those who serve are also betrayed by some of the politicians who send them into war. We didn't learn the lessons from the Vietnam war and those who serve us are still betrayed by some in politics.  We have a government that doesn't work. Vets return to increasing deficits that are heading to a fiscal cliff.  On the news presidential discussion is about Romney's wife having a horse in the Olympics! Is the situation any different at the local level?  The County is falling off a cliff. The news is filled by dueling press conferences as to who will send a bill to the taxpayers. Many of our vets are coming home to no jobs, rising property taxes and pols passing the buck.  When the bullets fly our young soldiers run towards the action.  When the metaphorical bullets fly some of our leaders at the national and local level duck, run, and find a safe place to hide. My friend who has 2 of his family serving said: "When I first read this I was disappointed and I knew from my two in Iraq and Afghanistan how they would feel under similar circumstances.  This article says it well.  War is an unpredictable business and soldiers know this so they develop the ability to bear betrayal and disappointment with equanimity" Ed, you write: "This should make each and every one of us demand politicians clearly define the implementation and expectation of our mission ....." Amen to that for everything government does!
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day July 26, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thank you Mike. And, yes, I demand from others what I expect from myself. Some love, some hate it, but at least that mirror does not give me a hard time!
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