U.S. Afghan Troops Losing Heart

8 10 2009

This just breaks my heart.

How can this sorry excuse of a President/Commander-In-Chief do this to the brave Americans serving in the hell hole called Afghanistan?

And why are we reading this in The Times of the UK, but not in American news media?

~Eowyn

…………..

By Martin Fletcher of The Times – Oct 8, 2009 – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6865359.ece

American troops in Afghanistan losing heart, say army chaplains

A US soldier praying in Afghanistan

A soldier finds solace during a Sunday service at the Airborne chapel – but morale is falling fast, say the chaplains

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, the chaplains told The Times in their makeshift chapel on this fortress-like base in a dusty, brown valley southwest of Kabul.

“The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

“They feel they are risking their lives for progress that’s hard to discern,” said Captain Sam Rico, of the Division’s 4-25 Field Artillery Battalion. “They are tired, strained, confused and just want to get through.” The chaplains said that they were speaking out because the men could not.

The base is not, it has to be said, obviously downcast, and many troops do not share the chaplains’ assessment. The soldiers are, by nature and training, upbeat, driven by a strong sense of duty, and they do their jobs as best they can. Re-enlistment rates are surprisingly good for the 2-87, though poor for the 4-25. Several men approached by The Times, however, readily admitted that their morale had slumped.

“We’re lost — that’s how I feel. I’m not exactly sure why we’re here,” said Specialist Raquime Mercer, 20, whose closest friend was shot dead by a renegade Afghan policeman last Friday. “I need a clear-cut purpose if I’m going to get hurt out here or if I’m going to die.”

Sergeant Christopher Hughes, 37, from Detroit, has lost six colleagues and survived two roadside bombs. Asked if the mission was worthwhile, he replied: “If I knew exactly what the mission was, probably so, but I don’t.”

The only soldiers who thought it was going well “work in an office, not on the ground”. In his opinion “the whole country is going to s***”.

The battalion’s 1,500 soldiers are nine months in to a year-long deployment that has proved extraordinarily tough. Their goal was to secure the mountainous Wardak province and then to win the people’s allegiance through development and good governance. They have, instead, found themselves locked in an increasingly vicious battle with the Taleban.

They have been targeted by at least 300 roadside bombs, about 180 of which have exploded. Nineteen men have been killed in action, with another committing suicide. About a hundred have been flown home with amputations, severe burns and other injuries likely to cause permanent disability, and many of those have not been replaced. More than two dozen mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) have been knocked out of action.

Living conditions are good — abundant food, air-conditioned tents, hot water, free internet — but most of the men are on their second, third or fourth tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, with barely a year between each. Staff Sergeant Erika Cheney, Airborne’s mental health specialist, expressed concern about their mental state — especially those in scattered outposts — and believes that many have mild post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “They’re tired, frustrated, scared. A lot of them are afraid to go out but will still go,” she said.

Lieutenant Peter Hjelmstad, 2-87’s Medical Platoon Leader, said sleeplessness and anger attacks were common.

A dozen men have been confined to desk jobs because they can no longer handle missions outside the base. One long-serving officer who has lost three friends this tour said he sometimes returned to his room at night and cried, or played war games on his laptop. “It’s a release. It’s a method of coping.” He has nightmares and sleeps little, and it does not help that the base is frequently shaken by outgoing artillery fire. He was briefly overcome as he recalled how, when a lorry backfired during his most recent home leave, he grabbed his young son and dived between two parked cars.

The chaplains said soldiers were seeking their help in unprecedented numbers. “Everyone you meet is just down, and you meet them everywhere — in the weight room, dining facility, getting mail,” said Captain Rico. Even “hard men” were coming to their tent chapel and breaking down.

The men are frustrated by the lack of obvious purpose or progress. “The soldiers’ biggest question is: what can we do to make this war stop. Catch one person? Assault one objective? Soldiers want definite answers, other than to stop the Taleban, because that almost seems impossible. It’s hard to catch someone you can’t see,” said Specialist Mercer.

“It’s a very frustrating mission,” said Lieutenant Hjelmstad. “The average soldier sees a friend blown up and his instinct is to retaliate or believe it’s for something [worthwhile], but it’s not like other wars where your buddy died but they took the hill. There’s no tangible reward for the sacrifice. It’s hard to say Wardak is better than when we got here.”

Captain Masengale, a soldier for 12 years before he became a chaplain, said: “We want to believe in a cause but we don’t know what that cause is.”

The soldiers are angry that colleagues are losing their lives while trying to help a population that will not help them. “You give them all the humanitarian assistance that they want and they’re still going to lie to you. They’ll tell you there’s no Taleban anywhere in the area and as soon as you roll away, ten feet from their house, you get shot at again,” said Specialist Eric Petty, from Georgia.

Captain Rico told of the disgust of a medic who was asked to treat an insurgent shortly after pulling a colleague’s charred corpse from a bombed vehicle.

The soldiers complain that rules of engagement designed to minimise civilian casualties mean that they fight with one arm tied behind their backs. “They’re a joke,” said one. “You get shot at but can do nothing about it. You have to see the person with the weapon. It’s not enough to know which house the shooting’s coming from.”

The soldiers joke that their Isaf arm badges stand not for International Security Assistance Force but “I Suck At Fighting” or “I Support Afghan Farmers”.

To compound matters, soldiers are mainly being killed not in combat but on routine journeys, by roadside bombs planted by an invisible enemy. “That’s very demoralising,” said Captain Masengale.

The constant deployments are, meanwhile, playing havoc with the soldiers’ private lives. “They’re killing families,” he said. “Divorces are skyrocketing. PTSD is off the scale. There have been hundreds of injuries that send soldiers home and affect families for the rest of their lives.”

The chaplains said that many soldiers had lost their desire to help Afghanistan. “All they want to do is make it home alive and go back to their wives and children and visit the families who have lost husbands and fathers over here. It comes down to just surviving,” said Captain Masengale.

“If we make it back with ten toes and ten fingers the mission is successful,” Sergeant Hughes said.

“You carry on for the guys to your left or right,” added Specialist Mercer.

The chaplains have themselves struggled to cope with so much distress. “We have to encourage them, strengthen them and send them out again. No one comes in and says, ‘I’ve had a great day on a mission’. It’s all pain,” said Captain Masengale. “The only way we’ve been able to make it is having each other.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Kimo Gallahue, 2-87’s commanding officer, denied that his men were demoralised, and insisted they had achieved a great deal over the past nine months. A triathlete and former rugby player, he admitted pushing his men hard, but argued that taking the fight to the enemy was the best form of defence.

He said the security situation had worsened because the insurgents had chosen to fight in Wardak province, not abandon it. He said, however, that the situation would have been catastrophic without his men. They had managed to keep open the key Kabul-to-Kandahar highway which dissects Wardak, and prevent the province becoming a launch pad for attacks on the capital, which is barely 20 miles from its border. Above all, Colonel Gallahue argued that counter-insurgency — winning the allegiance of the indigenous population through security, development and good governance — was a long and laborious process that could not be completed in a year. “These 12 months have been, for me, laying the groundwork for future success,” he said.

At morning service on Sunday, the two chaplains sought to boost the spirits of their flock with uplifting hymns, accompanied by video footage of beautiful lakes, oceans and rivers.

Captain Rico offered a particularly apposite reading from Corinthians: “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Advertisements

Actions

Information

19 responses

8 10 2009
Doc's Wife

The things that this so-called president does or, rather, does not do makes me ILL! This is the saddest story–it makes me weep for our brave men.

8 10 2009
Cec Moon

It’s never been a happy carefree time being “in the shit.” A recognized sense of purpose and a clearly defined goal is an absolute necessity to morale maintenance. When the commanding general on the ground can not count on his CIC to support his mission and provide every available ounce of support and then throw in some more, that is not a problem but rather a catastrophe.

These guys don’t expect their general officers to draw their swords and “ride up San Juan Hill.” They do anticipate that they will go to the wall for them on any conflict with civilians who manage resources both material and personal. Claims of an unidentified enemy are ridiculous. If some towel head is shooting at them they need rules of engagement to take them out without a pre-death interview and being read Miranda rights.

May God care for our grunts as only He can.

8 10 2009
Bob

This is the type of story that makes me sick. Understanding that our troops are put in Jeopardy, for a purpose that is so unclear, While the “Commander-In-Chief” flies to Copenhagen to plead for the Olympics to be in Chicago, and while there, berate the General in charge for making statements about what is needed to make progress in the fight.
Meanwhile back at home WND reports-
“Atheists say prayer makes them physically sick.”
Read the story here.-
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=112261
Some people don’t deserve to live in the U.S.

God Bless our Troops, AMEN

8 10 2009
Eowyn

Thanks, Bob, for directing us to the atheists-say-prayers-make-them-physically-ill article.

It is fascinating. I can’t help but be reminded of a similar phenomenon — the effect of the crucifix and holy water wielded by an exorcist on the demonically possessed. 😉

8 10 2009
giovanniworld

Eowyn,

I think you are on to something.

Gio-

8 10 2009
littlemissmuffin

Pray for our troops and their families.

8 10 2009
Tom in NC

Obama is nothing more than a GUTLESS, SON OF A BITCH, no damn respect intended. I am so damn feed up with his clueless ass I don’t know where to turn. Never in our history has a commander-in-chief undermined the troops as this president has, it is a damned disgrace and a slap in the face to all active duty personnel and veterans.

All the rhetoric and promises that he made during the campaign was just a bunch of BS and I know he had no intention of winning the war in Afghanistan, he is both a liar and a fraud and now our boys over there are disheartened, demoralized and disowned by a president that could not care less about them.

As a veteran my soul aches for these brave men and women, they are being hamstringed by a man (I use that term lightly) who listens more to his nutjob leftist kooks who have never and wouldn’t have the guts to serve the military in the first place, rather than his commanders in the field

What’s it going to take for Obama to pull his head out of his ass, a massacre of 25, 50, a 100 or more of our troops before he gets off his dead ass and shows some leadership, personally I don’t believe he has it in him, I believe deep down he is glad we are going down in defeat, he just simply doesn’t care, why should he, he’s never worn the uniform, he’s never been “in the shit” like Cec said above. The words Duty, Honor, Respect and Comraderie are foreign to him and mean nothing to him, but to these brave soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, it’s about all they have left.

OBAMA, EITHER GIVE US THE MEN AND TOOLS TO FIGHT THIS WAR AND WIN IT LIKE A LEADER OR GET US THE HELL OUT OF THERE, BUT JUST DON’T SIT THERE WITH THUMB UP YOUR ASS. DO SOMETHING DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I apologize for my language in this post, sometimes I just need to vent and today was one of those days.

8 10 2009
littlemissmuffin

Tom, I hear you brother. You and I were basically writing the same thing, but your point was much stronger. Don’t apologize for venting. It gets to all of us at one time or another, and we have to let it out or burst.

8 10 2009
Eowyn

Tom,

You said what’s in my mind and heart — and you said it with the appropriate righteous anger. Thanks.

8 10 2009
Tom in NC

Thank you muffin and Eowyn, your support and encouragement along with the other Patriots here give me the strength to face down this administration daily. Thanks again,

8 10 2009
Cec Moon

Well said Tom.

Does Benedict Arnold come to mind here? At least he had some battle experience.

It’s lucky for BHO that he has two thumbs so can have one in your described location and the other to constantly thumb his nose at the constitution and the people.

8 10 2009
DCG

Hear, hear.

How about we get some one with some real cajones to get the job done…Liz Cheney would be perfect.

The Traitor is a disgrace to our troops…

8 10 2009
littlemissmuffin

I’m watching Bob Barker on Neil Cavuto’s show on FOX. He’s donating 3 million dollars of his own money to help build a hospital in Bethesda, MD for wounded warriors. Mr. Barker also said this, “If we are going to stay in Afghanistan, we need to send the troops the general needs. Either that or bring all our troops home.” Absolutely!!! Either support them or bring them home. Don’t leave them out there to die a few at a time.

8 10 2009
Steve

Bravo Bob!!!!

8 10 2009
giovanniworld

Bob,

There are times when when what you said is totally appropiate, and this was one of those times!

The bottom line for me is this… Fight to win, or bring em home. During the campaign, Obama was all blood and guts about going to Afghanistan and getting Bin Laden. Now that he’s president, he seems to be throwing our entire military under the bus. He even went so far as saying it did not matter if Bin Laden was in Pakistan that we would still go get him. So my question is…………………………………………………………………………………… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

Gio-

8 10 2009
Bob

Thank You Gio. 🙂

I’ve never served in the military, to my shame.
But, I totally support anyone who is willing to keep me FREE! If the time comes, I WILL reciprocate and stand and fight here at home.
I am totally with you Gio. FIGHT to WIN or BRING THEM HOME!

2011 Elections can’t come soon enough. After reading an article where Sarah Palin was calling out Obama, I feel she would make a better Commander-in-Chief!

Bob.

9 10 2009
velenda

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????/////////////////////////////////// THEY GAVE HIM THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE……….
FOR WHAT????? starting racism all over again???????? The end is coming……..
When obama was in the senate the only time he chose to take a stand was against defenseless unborn babies…..
He bows to muslims, kisses their feet, and we are expected to give up our children to DIE for this COWARD…….
Obama is not worth one of our service peoples lives, let alone the 16 or so that we have lost this month alone…..
Thank God my son is out of the service but my heart goes out to the parents who’s sons and daughters are still in this service under this COWARD…. My son was lucky to have PRESIDENT BUSH WATCHING HIS BACK… your children have no one but themselves and each other……
GOD BLESS OUR SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN, SONS AND DAUGHTERS, AND HUSBANDS AND WIVES……
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As for the anti-God story…………… IT MADE ME ILLLLLLLLLLLLL……
Our Constitution says our Government can not tell you what CHURCH to go to, what GOD to believe in, BUT THIS COUNTRY WAS BAISED ON GOD SO DEAL WITH IT OR LEAVE………………
This bending over backwards for a small population has got to STOP………..
NO MORE POLITICALLY CORRECTNESS………..

9 10 2009
Steve

AH, Valaeda I see you are up early and noticed this tid bit of info. It was quite a schock. I emailed Gio and Eowyn and said read NOW!!!!! the’ll be a post on it soon. We have just blasted off for bizzaro world……………….I wanna PUKE.
Steve

9 10 2009
velenda

yes proves the world as we know it is coming to an end……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: