Thursday, October 8, 2009

American Troops Depressed, Disillusioned: US Troops Demoralized

In the midst of the worst fighting of the War on Terror, emotions are raw and feelings conflicted. American forces in Afghanistan are said to be depressed, disillusioned and demoralized. Two chaplains of the 10th Mountain Division's 2-87 Infantry Battalion and the 4-25 Field Artillery Battalion are speaking out, because they say, their men cannot.

After multiple deployments to Afghanistan, the divorce rate is skyrocketing and soldiers are said to no longer care whether they are helping Afghanis.

The inane "rules of engagement" that keep troops from doing their job and getting back home are a part of the depression. According to the TimesOnline.com:

The soldiers joke that their Isaf arm badges stand not for International Security Assistance Force but “I Suck At Fighting” or “I Support Afghan Farmers”.
If that isn't depressing, then what is? Everyday we hear that the fighting happens only after a certain set of conditions are met. Until then, the troops watch the activity nearby and are ordered to do nothing.
They’re a joke,” said one. “You get shot at but can do nothing about it. You have to see the person with the weapon. It’s not enough to know which house the shooting’s coming from.”
The Chaplains are frustrated and having difficulty coping themselves. Captain Jeff Masengale  2-87 Infantry Battalion says it "is all pain:"
Captain Masengale, a soldier for 12 years before he became a chaplain, said: “We want to believe in a cause but we don’t know what that cause is.”
That coming from a 12 year veteran, and a chaplain. This from a Lieutenant:
“The average soldier sees a friend blown up and his instinct is to retaliate or believe it’s for something [worthwhile], but it’s not like other wars where your buddy died but they took the hill. There’s no tangible reward for the sacrifice. It’s hard to say Wardak is better than when we got here.”
 From a Sergeant:
...has lost six colleagues and survived two roadside bombs. Asked if the mission was worthwhile, he replied: “If I knew exactly what the mission was, probably so, but I don’t.”
In the end, is this another Vietnam? Isolated outposts and absolutely no command orders to win?
The battalion’s 1,500 soldiers are nine months in to a year-long deployment that has proved extraordinarily tough. Their goal was to secure the mountainous Wardak province and then to win the people’s allegiance through development and good governance.
In the meantime, in Afghanistan, we have female Marines wearing headscarves to make inroads with Afghani women.
"It's part of the effort to show we're sensitive to local culture," said Capt. Jennifer Gregoire, of East Strasburg, Pennsylvania. She leads the Female Engagement Team in the Now Zad Valley of Helmand province, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.
In the meantime, in Afghanistan, General McChrystal has asked the President for 40,000 additional troops.

In the meantime, in the U.S., when Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about these statistics: "an estimated 80 percent of Afghanistan today has a permanent Taliban presence, compared to 72 percent a year ago and 54 percent in 2007," Gate responded:
"no doubt" that if Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, Al-Qaeda will have considerably more space in which to strengthen its forces, increase its recruitment, and raise more money for its jihad.
Nevertheless, Gates spoke of the need for pausing, reassessing, and reanalyzing. The troops fight and wait, and increasingly they are dying.

From another report out of Helman Province, reported by Anthony Lloyd:
“Shit day,” the colonel added. “Two KIA [Killed In Action]. Why is it always the ones with wives and children?”

I had seen that look before in the faces of field commanders in Afghanistan. They talk about their mission and their operations with an air of enthusiasm that is either real or projected, becoming a little more cautious as they explain the “small steps of progress”. Then, bang, one more of their soldiers is dead – “ragdolled” as the men call it. The patter stops, the mask drops fleetingly, and raw grief stares back into your face."
 In the meantime, at Combat Outpost Keating, 8 men died this weekend. They lost everything. Everything but the clothes on their back. Read about their plight here and considering donating. 

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