Despite some success on the part of Shi’ite militias in pushing back ISIS as they storm southward towards Baghdad, the situation has descended to the point that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has officially asked the U.S. to conduct airstrikes in the country. Given the difficulty and cost in human lives of the Iraq War it’s interesting to hear from those Americans who were directly engaged in the effort on the ground.
The Detroit Free Press ran in incredible story about how upset and heartbroken some Iraq veterans are and how they view the current chaos in Iraq.
“If the Iraqi army and military police are not going to fight and hold their ground, yeah, they are going to take Baghdad. I’m heartbroken.”
“We spent a lot of time and effort to secure that region of the world and to have it kind of just fall apart.”
“You can’t help but be extremely disappointed and frustrated that the sacrifice we made might be in vain. For every veteran who has been to Iraq, it is a constant battle to not become bitter.”
“For me, it’s very upsetting. I watch what’s happening there. My first six months, it was very intense fighting in Baghdad, but then there was prosperity and good news. And to see that now on the verge of collapse, and knowing I lost five soldiers, it’s very hard. These kids may have died in vain.”
“The one thing we can’t do is nothing. You can’t just turn your back on them.”
“I don’t think this country (the U.S.) right now has the stomach for ground troops. That’s my impression.”
“I don’t think we need to put troops on the ground but we do need to support the Iraqi government to help oust (the insurgents). I really feel that air superiority would give the Iraqis a chance for a new front.”
“It’s very frustrating. We didn’t leave a force behind to support the Iraqi forces, and obviously that created a vacuum. The enemy takes advantage of those vacuums, and unfortunately a lot of innocent people are going to die.”
“Now he is attending Baghdad University and I’m very worried about him. What’s going to happen to him?”
“There was a great deal of misconception particularly during Fallujah, during the big push, that the Iraqi soldiers weren’t stepping up. That was not really the case. I was in the chow lines with them and, while they may not have had the training and discipline, they were right there alongside us.”
“We’re going to lose that, lose that ground, that opportunity. When you see a people like the Iraqis hold their first election, and you get an 85% turnout and they went there under the threat of being killed, that’s how committed they were.”
“It was the topic of the day. It’s painful to see the ground we fought so hard for to be lost, the time and effort, the resources and lives lost.”
“What really worries me is that it could destabilize the entire region very quickly. Just the amount of terrain they’ve covered in the last week, it’s a sizable chunk.”
“The Sunnis and Shi’ites have been at each other’s throats for a long time. We cannot stop that.”