Posted by: kevinfortruth | August 7, 2011

When does death matter to us in the U.S.?


At what point do people stand up and say enough is enough?

I was moved last week when I read a tribute to a soldier who was killed a few weeks ago in Iraq. Initially, he was “just another soldier” who died in combat. I didn’t know him personally, he was not a relative of mine, nor did I go to school with him or even live down the street from him.

But it is when we peel the petals off the story that we get to know more about the individual in question that it begins to matter.

Captain David Van Camp recently died as a result of a rocket attack in Iraq near the Iranian border. The tribute for Capt Van Camp, which was on a singles website, did not even mention that two other soldiers died during the same attack. So, as I searched a little more in an effort to find a photo of Capt Van Camp to post on the singles site, I began to find out a little more about him as well as how he died.

Most people do not give this much thought, but our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines usually serve numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – unless they die during their first tour and don’t have the opportunity to serve more tours.

We have an “all volunteer” force and it is stretched to the limit, so our troops end up serving 4 – 5 and even 6 or more tours of duty in combat zones. To mix it up a little for the troops, the Pentagon rotates units between the hot deserts of Iraq and the snow capped mountains of Afghanistan.

Capt Van Camp got injured on his first tour and he received a Purple Heart as well as a Bronze Star after being injured by a suicide bomber, yet he went back again and again until he was finally killed in the line of duty by a rocket attack.

So, all of this still doesn’t make Capt Van Camp unique – so why am I even mentioning his name? He leaves behind his parents, a wife, and three brothers. Not having kids makes him somewhat unique but I want everyone to remember Capt Van Camp and his two fellow soldiers who died because of a larger fact most of us need to know.

The reason I am singling out Capt Van Camp is that over a year or so ago President Obama stood up in front of the cameras on national television and said that all combat operations in Iraq had ceased and we are only training Iraqis and providing support.

If that is the case, then why were Capt Van Camp and his fellow soldiers near the Iranian border in such a vulnerable area? I have read where military units have been renamed to make it look like they are not combat units and that they are not in the line of fire – but if they are not combat units, then why are these units so far away from the large military installations we built after invading Iraq. Presidents Bush and Obama both said we have no desire to build permanent bases in Iraq, but that is more a play on words than anything else.

When asked, various military officials over the years have said that we have built “enduring” military installations – I guess that means the bases will endure our occupancy for as long as we plan on being there but we do not plan on being there permanently – see what I mean.

There have been other military officers who have stated that we are building permanent military installations in Iraq for the long-term use of the Iraq military and that we are temporarily using them until the Iraqi military take over.

So, what I am getting at is that our military are pawns in the game of war.

They are stationed on enduring bases that are really permanent and even though these troops are not considered combat troops any longer, they are dying in combat even though their unit names do not give anyone the impression that they are, in fact, combat units.

My assumption is that all military personnel in these units are drawing combat pay, which is now called imminent danger pay. I would also speculate that any military units that are positioned so close to the Iranian border would be earning imminent danger pay.

So, what am I trying to get across here? If everyone has not already figured that out already, here it is.

We are being lied to. Our combat troops have not all been removed from Iraq – some have been left behind and they have been relabeled so we cannot figure out the combat nature of these units.

Personally, I believe the troops that are positioned near the border of Iran are being used as bait to justify a new war with Iran now that the Iraq was has slowed down. And unfortunately, while we have been lied to for the past year or so, our troops are still dying in Iraq – no, not at the same numbers, but they still are dying. More importantly, they are dying needlessly and senselessly.

If that bothers you, write your U. S. Representative, your U. S. Senator, and write the President of the United States and write your local newspaper and ask them point blank what is going on and when will we finally leave Iraq to the Iraqis?

Well, the first part of this blog was not that bad, right? Either way, I am happy that you have gotten this far and I hope you continue to the part about Afghanistan and Navy Seal Team Six.

So, lets continue…

Saturday morning I woke up earlier than usual – more like 8:00 AM instead of the usual 9:45 – 10:30 timeframe. I tend to be a late owl – while everyone else has already gone to bed hours ahead of me, I am browsing the web for the latest news and information – going from link to link and forgetting where I actually started.

When I logged on to Comcast, I noticed an article about a U. S. helicopter that went down in Afghanistan – it didn’t seem like a major story, but I decided to click on the link and then I saw the impact on what it ultimately would have on the nation and the world.

I tend to connect dots quickly and when I saw the various comments about Navy SEALS, I quickly tied this event immediately to Bin Laden’s death.

I was saddened to hear about the Navy SEALS and the Afghan troops as well as the highly trained dog that also died. For that many SEALS to be involved it must have been a high profile target they were after.

I know the type of helicopter used has been around since Vietnam and that it probably has been upgraded for modern warfare but it is amazing that it is still that vulnerable to a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). A grenade knocking out a large military helicopter reminded me of David versus Goliath

People are moved by numbers, and when a large number of individuals are killed at the same time, it attracts immediate attention, but I am saddened to hear of any death in Afghanistan and Iraq – be it an Afghan child, mother, an Afghan policeman, or a NATO or an American soldier.

It is a shame that so many highly specialized combat professionals died at one time in combat but I just don’t look at it the same way as most.

Life is Life, but I am sure when the military personnel visit the families where most of the Navy SEALS families reside and officially notify them of their loss, there will be grieving on a grand scale. The entire community will flock to the chapel and pray and some will break off in splinter groups to grieve in private.

But in addition to the number of U. S. military who died in this horrific accident, there were 7 Afghans who died as well. They represent a smaller number, but still, these soldiers will be mourned as well in Afghanistan. Also, I love dogs and I wonder who donated the dog to the U. S. military and will there be any notification to the original owners of the dog – did he have a name and will a photo be posted on any website with his handler. One last question, who was his handler and how many missions had this dog been on and how many tours of duty had he served and did he get any “down” time like soldiers do?

My concern, however, is this: Why do we tend to not grieve when an Afghan wedding party is “mistakenly” attacked by one of our drone aircraft and 40 – 50 innocent Afghani’s are killed? When our troops are hunting down an insurgent in Afghanistan and we accidentally kill nearby kids and other civilians who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, why don’t we grieve when we read about them on the Internet or the newspaper or when the incident is covered on television?

We continue to mourn those killed in NYC and Washington and in Pennsylvania on 9/11 and we mourned those killed in the federal building in Oklahoma City, but are those innocent Afghani and Iraqi citizens much different than we are? A lot of times we brush them off by saying they look alike and our troops kill them because they really might be the enemy who are out to kill our troops. Believe this, if we keep killing innocents at the rate we are killing them, their friends and relatives will grow up to hate us even more.

A term that has popped up in the last decade or two is “collateral damage”. We sometimes group all these accidental deaths by a yawn and a “Oh, well”, or I am sorry about their deaths but that is what they get for living next to terrorists. How cold and insensitive. If the police in any American city raided an apartment to arrest a fugitive and killed your parents in the adjoining apartment, you would be outraged – and you would get the best criminal lawyer money could buy to punish the police and hopefully get a huge payout from the city in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit and for pain and suffering.

Speaking of collateral damage, because of all the accidental deaths that have occurred in Afghanistan over the years, is it possible that some Afghani citizens consider those killed in the helicopter as “collateral damage”? I read where there was already a shootout going on with Army Rangers, (the Army’s version of SEALS), and the helicopter was called in for added support but was shot down. From what I understand, the Rangers survived the conflict and that is probably the only good news coming out of the incident.

What I really wonder is, how many Afghani’s were saddened to see the chopper go down and were others smiling? I am sure that some Afghani’s who had lost friends and relatives to past drone and/or U. S. military attacks might have felt some retribution or that Karma came full circle.

When is our compassion going to bubble up enough for us to speak up and say that war is senseless? When are we going to ask our officials why we are still in Afghanistan?

We surely are not still in Afghanistan because of Bin Laden any more than we are in Iraq because of Saddam Hussein.

Millions of Iraqis have been displaced – their homes destroyed and hundreds of thousands have died because of our weapons. Sure, some can say that Saddam killed more than we did, but we are the gift that keeps on killing. Also, because we are still in both countries, our troops are still dying.

If anyone wants to figure out why we are in these continuous wars, just follow the money. Some websites say we are in Afghanistan for the Opium and the Lithium and that might be true. If so, do some research and you might find out how the poppies are transported to the U. S. and processed into heroin to be sold on street corners in the U. S. Then try to find out if government airplanes, contract or military are being used to transport the poppy harvest to illegal businesses in the U. S. for further production.

Find out the companies who make the drones, the bullets, the rockets, the fighter aircraft, the bombs, and find out what Senators and Representatives receive political contributions from the Military Industrial Complex. Find out who the lobbyists are for the companies making these weapons of death and destruction and what Senators and Representatives are being paid off to encourage them to vote for war and to also have companies in their districts to end up on some preferred list of weapons manufacturers so they can make billions and billions from these very wars.

The money we are spending on these wars can instead be used to hire police officers, firemen, teachers, librarians, and other occupations that have suffered for the past ten years. Some of this saved money can be used to provide low cost student loans and grants so American students can rise to greatness again – excelling in physics, engineering, medicine, and other much needed degrees.

We can still have a strong military without the need to initiate offensive wars to dominate the rest of the world. Our military budget is bigger than the next 44 countries combined.

Anyone doubting the above comment can visit the following site and scroll down to the table of the military expenditures of the top 154 countries. Import the top fifty into Excel and you will see how much we spend next to the next 45 – 50 countries in the list.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

We end up paying so much for everything instead of having a strong military while still allowing these companies to make a reasonable profit. If there are 5 companies making competing weapons, we do not always choose the best weapon at the best price – we sometimes pay an excessive amount because that company is located in a certain Senator’s voting district.

My blog ends here and John Lennon takes over with “Imagine”

Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try
No people below us, above it’s only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do
No need to kill or die for and no religions too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger a brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing for the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
Take my hand and join us
And the world will live, will live as one

Well said, John, well said…..

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Responses

  1. And well said to you Kevin. Very well said.
    I am adamantly anti-war. And I notice how many rights and freedoms we have lost since the wars began, (despite the brainwashing cliche…….”they are fighting for our rights and freedoms!”) I also know of a bridge for sale.

    I am heartsick with every casualty of war, (including the precious animals), that comes to my attention. One is too many.

    • Thanks again Christy; Even though I was in the AF for 20+ years, I always thought negotiations were the better way to go. I grew up thinking the Russians were always the bad guys and we always took the proverbial high road but now I am not too sure.

      I believe we are being duped on a regular base without regard to who is actually in the WH, no matter the political persuasion and Congress plays this little good guy bad guy game when the seniors of both parties are in lock step even though they act like enemies.

      I also find the timing of this U. S. Army Ranger attack on a high profile target and needing support from Navy SEALS highly suspect, considering the White House and Congress have lost confidence with the voters.

      The government could have used some kind of rah rah victory that the Rangers and the SEALS could have provided and if not it could result in another boost of patriotism – even though a helicopter being shot down should not be the preferred way of shifting the focus away from our inept Congress that has the lowest approval rating in decades. If it turns out that this was another “false flag” operation like Pat Tillman’s death is rumored to have been.

      Another thing that confuses me – if we spend more money on our Dept of Defense than the next 45 countries combined, why are we so inept that we have been in one country for 10 years and the other for 8 years? We have even invited (forced) a bunch of countries (coalition of the willing, coerced, forced, and blackmailed) to assist us and we still could not successfully establish democracies and get both countries back on the straight and narrow. We are lingering in both countries well beyond how long it took us to successfully win in WW II and it seems like it is by choice so we can secure important resources in each country that we really need.

      No one came into the streets with flowers and parades and every time we “accidentally” kill civilians in either country, we end up getting our planes shot down, our troops killed by IED’s (roadside bombs). We are hated more than ever in both countries and as long as we remain in both, there will be more Rangers, SEALS, and other soldiers and marines killed one by one or in small quantities.

      If, in fact, we are fighting over there so the fight will not be brought over here, then the Generals need to execute the war correctly and respectfully – with the absolute least amount of collateral damage everywhere. If we respect their citizens, they will support our mission, otherwise they will turn on us at every opportunity.

      Just thinking out loud….


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