Friday, February 10, 2006

Support our troops

Reflecting on the first fatality in Alpha Company of the 1-8 Infantry, DefenseTech's David Axe ponders The Best Weapon:
Never mind radio jammers, armored vehicles and drones. Never mind multi-billion-dollar programs like FBCB2 and Blue Force Tracker. The real secret weapon of this nasty little war is the young grunt on the ground, the guy who faces Iraq's million little problems with a million little solutions of his own, every day for a year at a time, and who -- while folks back home decry the monetary cost of this war -- bears the true cost, in his blood.
Alpha Company is in a base where:
MREs pass for food, the mud is ankle-deep and the mood is plain glum. Theirs is the bad side of Balad; almost every day they take fire from disaffected Sunnis in the city's suburbs. IEDs are a constant threat.
As important as the radio jammers and up-armored Humvees are the smarts of our soldiers. Why any outpost has to rely on MREs long-term, or persist in ankle-deep mud two years after "Mission Accomplished" is a serious question in search of an honest answer. Why we have been unable to turn "disaffected Sunnis" into satisfied Iraqi citizens is another question. And those failures, failures of supply and of planning, fall not on the brave soldiers, but on the suits surrounding Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Supporting the troops means holding their leadership accountable for mistakes, because their mistakes kill soldiers, and leave others crippled or destroyed. Soldiers sign up to fight and know that they might die. No one disputes that. But supporting our troops means ensuring that no more die than absolutely must in order to achieve legitimate goals. The goals in Iraq have turned mushy, and too many soldiers are dying because of the leadership's incompetence, not in furtherance of even those mushy goals.