January 31, 2005

A U.S. SOLDIER WRITES IN THE GUARDIAN:

Every cycle has a mission in Iraq. The units we relieved, the first cycle, were called upon to defeat the major war elements of the Iraqi army, and oust Saddam. The ones that relieve us, the third cycle, will build up the strength of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Our job as the second cycle was to see that Iraq took over its own affairs, and kept the peace intact while they were doing so. Soldiers of this cycle were in Samara and Falluja to do just that. We have built schools and poured money into the infrastructure of this country, trying to get them to ready to stand on their own. To me, that has always been the visible aspects of our mission. That is the stuff that never seems to make CNN. . . .

For all the talk of this being a war for oil, I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of dollars of oil burn in industrial accidents without being ordered to lift a finger to help. For all the talk of being a tool of the imperialist powers trying to take advantage of a little country, I’ve spent hours in the hot sun training the local forces to replace me, and endless hours waiting for our command to come out of local meetings where they hear the local problems and try to assist them. And now, our last mission is complete, the elections went through and Iraq has taken another step toward its own freedom. We can pass this country to the next unit knowing we have done the job. This has been my Iraq and, someday, I want to look back and be proud.

I think he’ll have more to be proud of than some other people.