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Mr, President, Why Is My Son in Afghanistan?
Maplewood, New Jersey
September 17, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
He's been in Afghanistan for two weeks, but I feel as though I've aged 10 years. This is my only son's sixth deployment in harm's way.
I was supposed to get together with friends Saturday night. But when I read that two more NATO troops were killed in Helmund Province in a green on blue attack, I cancelled my plans. Then I found out they were Brits. This morning I heard that four American troops were killed by Afghans in uniform. Another mother's son is dead. Not mine.
I don't understand why our troops are there. First we were told it was to destroy al Qaeda. But Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda has not been in Afghanistan in large numbers in many years. They are now scattered around the world in many countries.
Are we there to stabilize a nascent democracy? The United Nations told us that the Afghan elections were fraudulent. We cannot remake Afghanistan into our image. Afghanistan has been rated by Transparency International as the world's second most corrupt government.
So why are we there? We learned many years ago from the Pentagon Papers that John McNaughton, an Assistant Secretary of Defense wrote to his boss, Robert McNamara, in March of 1965 that the United States was staying in Vietnam (at the loss of 59,000 troops) "70% to avoid a humiliation of defeat." Is history repeating itself? Does the American public care?
Military families care. But only 1% of the American people are in the military. Our loved ones are the 1% that are paying for this war while the rest of the country is only concerned about their paycheck and the latest escapades of starlets.
My son is a trainer in the Sangin area of Helmund Province. We have lost hundreds of troops in this area. This year alone, more than 50 NATO troops have lost their lives (and many more have been wounded) by the Afghans they are training. We teach them how to shoot straight, and some of them shoot at us.
Why are Afghan National Army ("ANA") troops and police killing our soldiers and Marines? We have been given several reasons. Some of the culprits are Taliban infiltrators. Hundreds of Afghan troops have been purged, but the killings go on. We had been told that cultural differences or personality clashes are at the root. So our troops have been taught how to respect the Afghan culture. But the killing of our troops continue. We are told that ANA troops are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We don't know how to deal with that for our own troops, so we can’t help the ANA troops with that problem.
Our troops have been told to make friends with their ANA counterparts. How can that happen when there is distrust on both sides? Our troops now have an "angel" looking out for them. That is an armed U.S. soldier or Marine ready to shoot any ANA member who looks like he may attack a U.S. troop. Making friends in this atmosphere is impossible.
My son is an ANA trainer in one of the most volatile regions of Afghanistan. He has left his pregnant wife and two young sons to go half way around the world to a country where many of the people he is trying to help want to kill him. Our President cannot give me a valid reason why he is there. It's time to bring all of our troops home and take care of them.
Anna is a member of Military Families Speak Out -- the only nationwide organization of military families (and supporters) that want to bring our troops home from Afghanistan NOW and take care of them. There is power in numbers. We now have approximately 4,000 military families registered and about 2,000 non-military supporters. The larger we grow, the more powerful our voice will be. We also want to stop the War with Iran before it starts. That war would also not be in the best interest of our country.