Horowitz the Soldier

Norman wrote this over a month ago. I’ve been remiss in keeping up with his posts, but I’ll catch up in the coming week. — AWO

by Norman Horowitz

It was about sixty years ago during the Korean War that I enlisted in the Air Force. Our training was at Sampson Air Force Base in upstate New York in January — and was it ever cold!

My basic training lasted eight weeks and consisted primarily of marching and going to classes.

One night, I was assigned to guard a warehouse in the middle of nowhere for three hours carrying an unloaded rifle that I didn’t know how to use. Around midnight, I was delivered to my station by Jeep and told to walk up and down in the front of this warehouse until I was relieved in about three hours. It was dark and about fifteen below zero and windy. I was scared out of my mind. The three hours lasted forever.

I served as a student of electronics for almost a year, followed by three years as an instructor. I never did anything “military” other than “drill” from time to time during these four years.

That brings me to the very sad story involving the killing of 16 Afghans by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.

It appears that there is no question that the Sergeant is responsible for these deaths, but there is a larger responsibility that rests with Presidents Bush and Obama for continuing the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I cannot comprehend how our once-great nation allows a soldier to be in harm’s way during three tours in Iraq followed by a tour in Afghanistan. This man is someone’s son, husband, father, etc., and he was put in harm’s way day after day and year after year.

In 1969, a member of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force wrote to its chairman that “while there is a reasonable possibility that a peacetime armed force could be entirely voluntary, I am certain that an armed force involved in a major conflict could not be voluntary.”

I expect that, were we to have a draft, the “system” would not as easily continue our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan requiring the system’s sons and daughters to be put in harm’s way.

Given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with casualties, enlistments have dropped, and a majority of the American public no longer believing that these wars are worth fighting. We must conclude that Sergeant Bales has been unreasonably placed in harm’s way over and over again.

Of course the Sergeant needs to be punished by “the system,” but how about someone punishing those who operate the system?

Sergeant Bales will have a high-profile court-martial, President Bush will continue to clear brush in Texas, and President Obama will run for a second term as we get ready to go to war with Iran. Now what is wrong with that picture?