AfPak Able

October 11, 2010

Last Thursday — Oct. 7, the ninth anniversary of the start of the Afghan War – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War gathered in front of the Walter Reed Hospital in DC to launch “Operation Recovery,” an attempt by the group to  air the horror, and thus bring to a halt, the re-deployment of soldiers traumatized by multiple tours of duty.

Good fortune with that one, guys — the US military machine needs the bodies.
An estimated 350,000 to 900,000 troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan struggle with PTSD — 20 to 50 percent of all service members.
Suicide appears an option — One weekend at end of last month, four soldiers killed themselves at Fort Hood, Texas (14 suicides there already this year, six others under investigation), with 104 Army troops committing suicide this year, and at Fort Hood the self-killing rate is nearly four times that of the civilian population.

(Illustration found here).

In a decade of warfare for the US, and all of it incompetently directed by people telling huge lies, the average run-of-the-mill trooper is pretty-well shot-to-shit and back again, and again, and again.

As the US and UK began a massive military build up in the Persian Gulf region in early 2003, Don Rumsfeld opened his pie-hole and lied out his ass — although war was not inevitable, if it did happen to happen, then it’ll be wham-bam-thank-you ma’am.

“It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months,” he said, speaking at the American air base at Aviano, in northern Italy.
“The forces have been flowing now for a good number of weeks and that has had its intended effect,” he said.

Near eight years later, I guess, Rummy had apparently experienced a horrid case of coitus interruptus.
And remember Paul Wolfowitz?
The fuck-face-fucker sniping at Army Chief Eric Shinseki’s cry that more US troops were needed to secure Iraq: “First, it is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in a post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army — hard to imagine.”
And now, it is not hard to imagine: According to, 5,746 US GIs have died since October 2001, 4400-plus in Iraq and more than 1,300 in Afghanistan — two more were killed today in Afghanistan — with an estimated more than 100,000 wounded.

Clare Bayard, director of the San Francisco-based Protecting Democracy Institute of Catalyst Project: Deployment and re-deployment of traumatized service members moves beyond insult, past injury, into increasing danger. Service members who struggle with serious mental health conditions may not be fit to protect themselves, each other, or the safety and dignity of the Iraqi and Afghan people.

If this process continues, one shouldn’t be surprised by bad incidents involving bad violence in these war zones, like for an instance, the legal action currently against five US troops accused of murdering Afghan citizens for no reason, dismembering some of them, taking body parts, teeth, as keepsakes.
Two of those soldiers, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs and Spc. Michael Wagnon were each on their third deployment, while the other three — Spc. Jeremy Morlock, Pfc. Andrew Holmes and Spc. Adam Winfield — were on their first.

Despite the viciousness of the current world-wide war on terror, and the dumb-shit uselessness of the AfPak theater, that conflict’s nine-year turning point last week apparently didn’t register very strongly with US peoples.
I hadn’t heard about the IVAW’s gathering at Walter Reed until well after the fact.
These men and women are seemingly forgotten as time ruthlessly trudges on and US peoples are more concerned with the economy than their young people dying for no reason.

(Illustration found here).

Josh Rushing of Al Jazeera English covered the demonstration and reported in his blog: While it was disheartening to hear McCord’s story, and those of his comrades, saddest of all is that no one, save the handful of reporters looking for a story on the anniversary of the war, was there to listen. That is, except for the Capitol Police who threatened to arrest the veterans as they stood on the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building. Not that any senators were present as congress is in recess.

The guy Rushing mentioned above, Ethan McCord,  served in Iraq with the Bravo Company 2-16 and was made infamous by the Wikileaked “Collateral Murder” video earlier this year as he tried to save a couple of Iraqi children shot up by US helicopter gunships.

From Democracy Now:

Ethan McCord: Yes, I did pull the children out of the van that day and didn’t find out that they were denied to go to Rustamiyah for healthcare until afterwards.
Later on that evening, after the incident, when I was back at the FOB and I washing the blood of the children off of my uniforms, you know, my mind was a mess.
I was very emotional, couldn’t really deal with what I had seen and, more importantly, was more upset with what I was a part of.
So I went to my staff sergeant and asked to see mental health, so that I can talk about my feelings and what I was feeling.
And I was denied to go to mental health. They told me I needed to suck it up and that there would be repercussions if I was to go see mental health, and I would be charged with malingering.
And I was rather shocked that just by me needing to speak to somebody about what was going on and what I was feeling could constitute a crime in the Army.
So, like the good soldier, you know, and not wanting to be charged with malingering, I did in fact push everything down as much as I could and —
Amy Goodman: Ethan, can you tell us —
McCord: — tried to move on.

Many, many military service people don’t move on, can’t grip it.

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