More than two thousands men and women have given their lives in the service of their country in Afghanistan and one retired Marine says that’s more than enough.
Retired U.S. Marine Bing West is warning anyone who will listen about the dangerous turn the war in Afghanistan has taken. The author and former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Reagan administration isn’t some arm chair quarterback casting stones at the Obama administration from the safety of his suburban home. He’s been embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan on many occasions and just returned from going on a series of patrols.
From his vantage point he believes there is little our troops on the ground can do working alongside Afghan troops. He says the current strategy seems pointless. “I just don’t know what we’re doing anymore,” said West. “If your degree of trust has gone away, I don’t know what you’re accomplishing when people tell me that we’re partnering. If you think your partner may kill you, there’s something wrong with this as a strategy.”
West said it’s time to let the Afghans fend for themselves. “We have come to the end of what we can do with our conventional troops in the field,” he said. “We should quietly accelerate bringing them home. We should basically say to the Afghan leaders at every level, ‘Look, we’ve had it with you as a country. We do not trust you. We believe many of you continue to be corrupt. And if you end up swinging from telephone poles, it’s because you screwed up.’”
West says there is a very real fear among American troops that the U.S. is just running out the clock until the withdrawal takes place in 2014. “President Obama should never, never have come out and said, ‘Well I’m gonna send some troops in there, but we’re all leaving by 2014,’” West said. “Everyone knows the clock is ticking down, and that changes what everybody does.”
West warns that President Obama exited Iraq in a very bad way, and we’re seeing a repeat in Afghanistan. “I think President Obama did a great disservice to our country by leaving so abruptly from Iraq and causing chaos when he left that way and now saying he’s going to do the same thing in Afghanistan,” he said. “I do believe that we have to leave, but we don’t need to trumpet it from the top of the roof.”
West suggests the morale of U.S. troops is suffering as a result of the lack of direction from their leaders. He said he was asked to address the troops following his embed mission. He shared what he told the men and women in uniform.
“You have done your best for this country,” he said. “You have volunteered, and you have put your life on the line. And you can take enormous pride in what you did and for the rest of your life. When somebody says, ‘Did you fight in Afghanistan?’ you can say, ‘Yes, I did.’ And you’ve also had a heck of an adventure and you volunteered for it. That doesn’t mean politically everything is always going to work out well. But we’re used to life. We’re used to things not working out exactly right. That doesn’t mean that any of you cannot say, ‘I did my job,’ because you did do your job.”