It’s a familiar story in American history following the Second World War. We get involved in combat operations…we call them peace-keeping missions, expeditions, counter-insurgency and pacification programs and police actions–not to mention a wide range of covert military activities. Somehow, if we call them something other than wars they won’t be wars, but for the men and women who fight and die in them they look suspiciously like wars all the same. In spite of the political verbiage politicians are wont to cloak them in. We are fighting wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen but we don’t call them that. We have military and intelligence personnel actively engaged in who knows how many other nations. Let’s just call these “engagements” what they are, wars. We have become a nation engaged in an endless series of wars…wars. Let’s at least agree to call them what they are.
Last month, Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pinned Purple Hearts on four fellow Marines at a remote outpost in northern Iraq. They and four others were wounded in an attack by the Islamic State group that killed their buddy, Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin.
Less than a week later, Dunford was seated before the Senate Armed Services Committee, serving as a lightning rod for lawmakers’ frustration with the White House’s refusal to recognize that U.S. troops deployed to help in the fight against the ISIS were on a “combat” mission.
Dunford wouldn’t answer for the White House, but he didn’t mince words in expressing his view: Cardin “was killed in combat, senator,” he told the Republican from Alaska, Dan Sullivan. So, too, was Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, a Special Forces soldier killed in Iraq last October as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Read More