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Thread: A Marine's Family Says
10-26-09, 02:14 PM #1
A Marine's Family Says
A Marine's Family Says
It's time to make a decision on Afghanistan.
by Kyle W. Nevins Joseph R. Nevins
10/23/2009 6:00:00 PM
As family members of a Marine deployed in Afghanistan, we know the importance of timely decisions in the heat of battle--indecision in the field puts troops at risk and leads to casualties. Likewise, the president's indecision about the next steps in Afghanistan is placing the overall mission and the troops on the ground at risk.
Announcing his counter-insurgency strategy for Afghanistan this past March, President Obama said, "If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can." This commitment was clearly re-affirmed by the president in an August speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Yet, the president and his advisers are now engaged in a prolonged process of re-thinking America's Afghanistan strategy. What has changed?
According to the White House, it would be irresponsible to act until a credible resolution to the presidential elections in Afghanistan emerges. But we fear, as many have reported, that the real reason for delay is anxiety amongst civilian White House aides that an escalation in Afghanistan will derail the president's domestic agenda. On the latter, let us be clear--considerations of political expediency have no place in the president's war room.
Yes, there are challenges of a corrupt government and an unsure election in Afghanistan. And yes, we have other important challenges at home, including health-care reform. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of choosing the ideal time to act. We are in Afghanistan because of a real threat posed to our national security and no electoral outcome will change that fact. Instead, we must do the best we can under the circumstances. The Marines do this every day and they deserve the same level of leadership from their commander-in-chief.
Yet, it has now been nearly two months since General Stanley McChrystal submitted his assessment on the situation in Afghanistan. In the midst of the indecisive deliberations in Washington, NATO members are suggesting a reluctance to commit additional forces and American troops are losing their grip on the situation. Repeatedly we have heard of the frustration of Marines, hampered not by a lack of firepower but manpower.
On this, General McChrystal has given unequivocal advice to the president--a successful strategy must include a substantial increase of troops on the ground. Others, including Vice President Joseph Biden, reportedly argue for a strategy that promotes minimal commitment. With our brother and son in harm's way, who should we believe--the general whose motivation is success in Afghanistan, or the politician whose motivations include success in Washington?
General McChrystal further tells us that the key to a successful counterinsurgency mission is ensuring lasting security for the Afghan population. We hear more evidence for that theory, than we do for the vice president's. In fact, we hear it from our brother and son. As reported by Dexter Filkins in an article published in the New York Times immediately prior to the August presidential elections, the local population expressed concern about their vulnerability in the event of an American withdrawal:
"We're afraid you're going to leave this place after a few months," an elderly Afghan man told First Lt. Patrick Nevins, an officer from Chapel Hill, N.C., who led the Marine unit into Tarakai. "I promise you," Lieutenant Nevins said, "we will be here when the weather gets cold, and when it gets hot again."
Given the current climate in Washington, we wonder if Patrick will be able to keep his promise. A failure to do so will not only spell disaster for Afghans, but will demoralize our dedicated troops.
The Marines know full well the importance of leadership, providing clear direction, critical motivation, and timely decisions to accomplish missions under the most difficult of circumstances. As the family of a Marine, and as American citizens, we have a right to expect the same in Washington. Mr. President, it's time to decide.
Kyle Nevins is director of floor operations for the House Republican whip. Joseph Nevins is the Barbara Levine professor of breast cancer genomics and director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Technology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. They are, respectively, the brother and father of 1st Lieutenant Patrick Nevins, a Marine infantry platoon officer currently serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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