Fall of Fallujah

Special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are military units highly-trained to perform unconventional, often high-risk missions. Special forces, as they would now be recognised, emerged in the early 20th century, with a significant growth in the field during the Second World War. | Photo: | Special Forces, Military, War, Camouflage, Army, Marine,

Did they die in vain?

""Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."

That stanza is from "Charge of the Light Brigade" a poem by Tennyson written to commemorate the sacrifice of soldiers during a botched operation of the Crimean War. The poem seems at first reading like a simple patriotic tome about good soldiers doing their duty in the face of terrible odds. It is unapologetic in the honoring of those who bravely go into danger knowing that it may mean their own death. At the same time though it points to the terrible tragedy of such great men and these days, women, being sacrificed so carelessly for the sake of some futile mission or pointless war. As nearly all of Fallujah and Al-Ramadi has fallen to Al-Qaida linked fighters, we must face the bitter truth of how little we have come since the 19th century, where good people still have to die in bad wars.

Those cities are part of Western Iraq's Anbar province, a predominantly Sunni area and former stronghold of the insurgency that cost so many lives and resources during the worst days of the war. Several operations were carried out in order to stamp out the insurgency in this area, including the "Second battle of Fallujah" which led to over 600 US Marine casualties, including 95 deaths. This was some of the fiercest fighting experienced by Marines decades, leaving a bloody mark on the history of the Marine Corps not seen since the Vietnam War. I dare not try to imagine how those who served at that time and place feel about recent events, let alone how the families of those who did not return from Fallujah are able to reconcile giving up the most important people in their lives for a very questionable outcome in Iraq.

Humbly though, I would like to say that just as the poem reminds us, the lack of a strategic victory does not in any way diminish the value of what those who put on a uniform do for the sake of a nation and its people. At the end of the day, those who fight on distant battlefields, those who band together to accomplish the mission that is set out for them, do not act out of some lofty notion of national interest or ideological imperative, they fight for each other, they suffer and they bleed so that as many men and women as possible get to go home to their families and live in whatever peace they may can carve out for themselves. Those who act honorably and courageously in these situations earn greater accolades in my opinion and deserve greater respect than any multi-starred general or would be history changer ever will. The fight for one's brother or sister, the laying down of one's life for another; that has been, and always will be the true path to greatness.

In another world, in a fairer world, those who have the arrogance and guile to send good men and women to die half-way around the world without a plan, without an exit strategy, and without a clear idea of what is to be gained, would seclude themselves forever in quiet isolation, fading from collective memory and remembered only in vague infamy by the citizenry. They would not get to appear regularly on political talk-shows or be interviewed by the press. They would feel ashamed to even leave the house, and they would not dare speak in public again on anything important.

I will not name those so called leaders, they do not deserve it and we all know who they are anyway. I just hope that they and those who would follow their example in foreign policy contemplate what great sacrifices were made for the sake of their plans and how little we as a country have to show for that. You have a military that is the envy of the world, perhaps the envy of history itself; you have hundreds of thousands of uniformed personnel at your disposal to go and fight for the cause you lay out for them. They will follow orders; they will give everything to accomplish the mission. Barring a fight for basic survival, the least that is owed to them, the bare minimum, the non-negotiable part, is making sure that their mission can succeed and that it actually serves the interests of the nation and not your petty delusions of grandeur.

"When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred."

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Updated May 22, 2018 6:39 PM UTC | More details


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