Commentary by Kerry Patton is an internationally recognized security, terrorism, and intelligence professional. He has taught domestic and international organizations in counter-terrorism, intelligence, and physical security related issues. He has briefed some of the highest government officials ranging from ambassadors to members of Congress and Pentagon staff. He is author of the book "Contracted: America's Secret Warriors" and "Contracted II: America's Terror Trackers," and "Going Rogue: The Compilation."
In a nutshell, Anbar Province has fallen into the hands of Al Qaeda. Many of America’s best and brightest paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. It is a nation that has immediately crumbled into absolute chaos with Al Qaeda taking over key areas following the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces.
That is something we should have expected.
Unlike many who spent months upon months serving in Iraq, I didn’t. My time in Iraq was incredibly short—literally, just a handful of weeks. Admittedly, I am probably not the right guy to write this due to my lack of experience in country in comparison to so many others but, that should not refute my understanding of loss due to war.
U.S. Marine James Blake Miller, dubbed the “Marlboro Marine” by the media, smoking a cigarette while serving in Iraq during the Battle of Fallujah.
If you served in combat over the past decade, you likely know someone who was killed in action. I cannot walk into Arlington National Cemetery without falling to my knees and balling like a little girl who lost her first baby doll. I know one too many buried there.
I have learned to live with, and accept, the fact that Iraq was a boondoggle from the start. I swallowed a lot of Kool-Aid which initially had me supporting the war. Some of that was through truths, mistruths, and actual, full-out lies.
None of that matters right now though.
We, as in the men and women who serve in and out of uniform, were given a task. We didn’t have to like it but we did need to do what was asked of us. We did exactly what was asked of us and unfortunately many never made it home—but loss of life is a reality in war.
Alex Burgess gets emotional while visiting the gravesite of an old friend who was killed in Iraq, in section 60 at Arlington Cemetery, May 27, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. For Memorial Day President Obama layed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, paying tribute to military veterans past and present who have served and sacrificed their lives for their country. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
With all the blunders that come with war, many are quick to point fingers to find someone, anyone, at fault when tragedy hits. I personally cannot and will not do that and I believe none of us should. War is hell and not one person is ultimately responsible for any of the chaos that comes with war—many persons are.
Recent reports have been released pertaining to Al Qaeda seizing key towns in Iraq—mostly throughout Anbar Province. I am hearing how President Obama is to be blamed for these recent events. I partially disagree.
If we are a “blame” an individual, then yes, President Obama is the one whom a finger should be pointed at for the recent Al Qaeda advancements throughout Iraq, considering it was under his Presidency we withdrew our forces.
But as I said previously, not one person should hold the ultimate responsibility for such events.
Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the 2003 Iraq invasion. Not all, but enough to send our warriors into harm’s way. For those who wish to point a finger claiming President Bush was ultimately at fault for initially sending in U.S. forces, please don’t forget that little fact—a vote was made and both parties voted in favor of the invasion.
At the same time, while President Obama was the president to see all U.S. forces removed from Iraq, let’s not forget that he did so under the recommendation of several persons within both political parties along with key military personnel.
My point in this is very simple—an array of persons are ultimately responsible for Al Qaeda’s recent surge in Anbar Province, which, of course, includes the current leadership found in Iraq. More important is the fact that an array of persons are responsible for Iraq’s current overall chaos. This does not just include U.S. presidents or any one specific elected official, but also military leaders, intelligence officers, and even foreign entities.
What’s the real point in this? Pointing a finger at one specific person will not bring back any of our brothers and sisters lost from this war or any other war.
I feel blessed knowing I live in a nation where we maintain an all-volunteer fighting force. I, along with many of my brethren, volunteered. We knew what could result in our selfless sacrifices yet we were willing to take the risk either way. In our hearts and minds, the risk to serve alongside our nation’s best and brightest was well worth the reward—a reward that would last a lifetime no matter how short-lived that lifetime may have been.
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