Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-(rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
A short time ago, our country and its military reached a sad milestone in the war in Afghanistan. We have now lost 2,000 members of our military during our almost 12 year war in Afghanistan. In light of that sad news, a Republican Congressman, Rep. Bill Young of Florida, received a letter from an Army soldier on his third tour in Afghanistan that caused him to change his mind about our continuing involvement in Afghanistan. That soldier, Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton wrote the letter to the congressman, shortly before he and a comrade were killed by an IED that journalist Bill Moyers recently discussed.
“BILL MOYERS: Matt Sitton knew the war in Afghanistan was going badly. He knew because he was fighting it. 26 years old, with a wife and child back home, Staff Sergeant Sitton was on his third combat tour there. His third. Time and again, he and his men were sent through what he called “A minefield on a daily basis.” His comrades were being blown apart. At least one amputee a day, he said, “Because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives.”
Morale was low. The men struggled to remain alert. Sitton said he asked his officers to give them a break but was told to stop complaining. “I am all for getting on the ground and fighting for my country when there is a desired end state and we have clear guidance of what needs to be done,” he wrote. “but when we are told basically to just walk around for a certain amount of time…not sitting well with me.” At home in Florida, Matt Sitton had attended a Christian school run by the Baptist church attended by Congressman Bill Young. He wrote Congressman Young and told him what was happening. “I’m concerned about the well-being of my soldiers,” he said. “… I just want to return my guys home to their families healthy.” He ended, “If anything, please pray for us over here. God bless.” Crooks and Liars
As a father of a Marine Captain that served in Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011 and was embedded with Afghan National Army units, I can understand Sgt. Sitton’s concerns. To Rep. Young’s credit, I commend him for breaking with his party’s and many in the Democratic Party’s steadfast policy of maintaining our troops in Afghanistan. The recent surge in killings of our military members and the personnel of Allied nations by Afghan National Army and Afghan Police officers along with the constant IED attacks should be enough to convince anyone that we can no longer do much good for the Afghan people.
Rep. Bill Young has long advocated and voted for increasing our military presence in Afghanistan and he now thinks we should get out of the country as soon as feasible. “On Aug. 2, less than two months after he sent the email, Sitton, 26, was killed by an IED blast. He left behind a wife, a 9-month-old son — and an 81-year-old Congressman with a new perspective on Afghanistan. Young is the longest-serving Republican member of Congress, and he has continuously voted against troop drawbacks from Afghanistan, or even for setting a timetable for troop withdrawal. But after Sitton’s death, Young noted a change of heart. “I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can,” Young told the Tampa Bay Times this week. “I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.” ABC News
It is sad that politicians have to wait until 2,000 of our finest have died, and thousands more maimed and injured, before they decide that enough is enough. However, in light of Rep. Young’s prominent place in his party, I am hopeful that a bipartisan effort can now be made to leave Afghanistan even prior to the deadline initiated by President Obama. How many more have to die or be injured before politics is no longer important?
I am saddened by the 2,000 deaths and the many injuries and I offer my prayers and condolences to the family of Sgt. Sitton and all the other families who have lost loved ones, but I also pray that Rep. Young can be the start of a movement to extricate our men and women from Afghanistan well before the announced timetable. How can we wait when the people who we are trying to help are killing us?
The Republican nominee for President has backed the Obama withdrawal timetable, but his Vice Presidential pick has criticized President Obama’s withdrawal timetable including the decision to withdraw 22,000 more troops in September as endangering the troops that are there and as a political shell game. Paul Ryan
Do you think that a prominent Republican Congressman can help move his party and the hawks in the Democratic Party to get behind an even quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan? Do you agree that we need to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible? Savings the lives of our brave military men and women should be a non-partisan issue, shouldn’t it?