Afghanistan war hits home

Schools gamble for revenue share
August 16, 2011
Nancy Cherie McCollum
August 18, 2011

Flags are at half-staff statewide through Friday, a reminder of another bloody day in Afghanistan for our troops.

The everlasting battle against the Taliban, this “War on Terror,” claimed the lives of 30 more American special operation troops, two of whom were men representing our state. Our hearts go out to the families of the men and women who fell Saturday as equally as the 1,697 who preceded them in death.

Lieutenant Commander Jonas Kelsall and Chief Petty Officer Robert James Reeves, Shreveport natives, childhood friends and Navy SEALS, were among the killed when the Chinook helicopter they occupied was shot down.

As reported by Bloomberg, military officials sang the same tune following the fatal attack. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the military would “draw inspiration” from the tragedy and “carry on the fight.” The retiring head of U.S. Special Operations Command said personnel would “press on.” A Pentagon official said U.S. special operations knows how to “soldier on.”

Our servicemen and servicewomen have “soldiered on” in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly 10 years at a $1.2-trillion cost to the nation, according to war watchdog groups, the longest and costliest war, sans inflation, in our nation’s history.

More than 100,000 troops are still stationed in Afghanistan.

Our elected officials often take to grandstanding, charging one another with not doing enough to cease fire in the Middle East. As it was under the Bush Administration, it is now under Obama’s; only the party colors have changed.

While we blindly trust our politicians to solve the debt crisis, improve domestic employment and make a decision on the Bush tax cuts, while we watch from afar as they maneuver around the minds of voters, we must take the time to speak on behalf of our soldiers.

Let’s not allow our soldiers to be a pawn in the political game, and let’s charge our Congressmen to aspire for a premier standard in terms of higher pay and benefits.

It’s easy to look at a balance sheet and think of the Department of Defense in terms of numbers, but we cannot allow that to happen.

We cannot forget, no matter how quiet the Middle Eastern front appears, that these are our countrymen, and they are in danger every moment they are abroad.

And we cannot go too far in ensuring our politicians treat them appropriately.