The Daily Signal asked several Iraq War vets their feelings about what’s going on in that country recently. Needless to say, most of them were not very happy with President Obama’s policies — past and present.
Chief Warrant Officer Amber Barno served two tours in Iraq:
I think Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq was completely botched. He left behind a weak government and an Iraqi military that was unable to defend itself. Obama’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq almost instantaneously with no sort of residual force to help them defend their own nation has consequences. There are real-world consequences to messing up the withdrawal as we’re now seeing with the [terrorist group] Islamic State, with their ability to have such significant advances into Iraq.
It is disappointing. Thousands of American soldiers who served in Iraq made life-altering sacrifices. Some came home with physical or invisible wounds that they still have to deal with. It’s disheartening, and now we’re having to deal with the consequences of an early, too soon, withdrawal. The withdrawal was not managed properly.
The president was more concerned with a rapid withdrawal than ensuring all we fought for in Iraq was preserved. To see that and almost a decade of work, lives, and sacrifices put into Iraq be swept away in a few months of ISIS coming in and grasping control, it is extremely frustrating to watch that.
Sergeant Dennis Joslyn served two tours:
When ISIS first rolled in, the United States should have taken action, and it would have ended the uprising. Now, thanks to Washington’s inability to act, that time has passed. Airstrikes can aid, drops are too little too late.
I am not advocating redeploying American soldiers. I think this is a problem that should be handled by the Arab League as we have no [Status of Forces Agreement] with Iraq at this time. It is my belief that had the president ordered these air missions sooner, none of this would have happened.
Sergeant Ryan served one tour in the army and 3 as a civilian:
I think we left too early and for political reasons. I support the airstrikes. I don’t want to go back, but if the [Islamic State] isn’t eliminated, they’ll eventually come to the U.S.
ISIS is a real threat. I put most of the blame on the Iraqi government and its corruption and tribally/ethnically/religiously fractured society for the current mess. But blame doesn’t get anything done. ISIS has the money, manpower and resources to attack the U.S. and are making their intentions known.
If we don’t handle it now, I think we’ll regret it later. Leaving a stabilization force like we did in Germany, Japan and Korea would have helped, but the withdrawal was politically motivated and political decisions in wartime don’t always work out so well.
You’ve probably read reactions of other Iraq War veterans who are remarkably uniform in their criticism of the president and belief that only a comprehensive policy will stabilize the situation.
Some, like Special Operations Master Sergeant Jason Beardsley, express frustration with the administration for a preventable situation:
It’s frustrating to watch because we had the mechanisms in place to prevent that. And, of course, the withdrawal just allowed for that [power] vacuum to overwhelm those mechanisms. This is a tough thing to watch, and it is frustrating for service members to process that. We’ve spent multiple deployments facing some of the same threats on the ground, and now we see those threats strategically expanding because we just left the area.
While a a majority of civilians — and, admittedly, many soldiers who served in Iraq — believe the effort we made was in vain, there are many like the veterans above who disagree and want to see the US make a bigger effort to retrieve the situation.
For their sake, and all those who served, let’s hope we do.