“I thought: ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”Minor problem. The president insists we're making good progress in Iraq.
Scepticism of the mission doesn't dampen Delta's performance, however. “My guys are all professionals. I tell them to do something, they do it.” says Capt. Douglas Rogers. But an April 29 incident has changed attitudes about the conflict's eventual outcome. After a two-hour gun battle, among the dead insurgents American troops identified at least two Iraqi soldiers they'd helped train.
Captain Rogers admits, “The 29th was a watershed moment in a negative sense, because the Iraqi Army would not fight with us,” adding, “Some actually picked up weapons and fought against us.”In another story, the Times reports that globalization is working well for terrorism. Iraq is now exporting fighters to other countries in the region to prepare attacks "on Americans and Jews."
The battle changed the attitude among his soldiers toward the war, he said. “Before that fight, there were a few true believers.” Captain Rogers said. “After the 29th, I don’t think you’ll find a true believer in this unit. They’re paratroopers. There’s no question they’ll fulfill their mission. But they’re fighting now for pride in their unit, professionalism, loyalty to their fellow soldier and chain of command.”
We've been told repeatedly that Bush's "fly paper" strategy in Iraq -- using American troops as live bait for all our enemies in Iraq, both foreign and domestic -- would keep America's foes from following us home. Once again, our civilian leaders' assurances prove mistaken if not phony.
But America is the land of endless second chances. So the next time Bush & Co. deliver their "if we pull out they'll follow us" defense for the Iraq debacle, will someone please suggest that we redeploy troops to Afghanistan where Bush lost his way and Osama bin Laden? Maybe They will follow us there. Maybe Bush could find his way again (and a viable mission) where he first lost it. On Memorial Day, it would be an excellent way to support Delta Company, their comrades and their mission.