» andy wolf – awolf@my.apsu.edu

In light of the recent event involving a rogue U.S. soldier killing 16 Afghan civilians, the people of Afghanistan, including their President, Hamid Karzai, have voiced they are “at the end of their rope” with the U.S. occupation. U.S. troops have been advised not to leave their outposts, as there is no guarantee local nationals will not attempt to retaliate.

Tensions are high, and it would seem the world’s greatest military is at the whim and mercy of what is essentially a confederation of 18th century tribesmen.

When I bring this topic up, the reactions I usually get from people range from “We just need to nuke Afghanistan,” to the ubiquitous “We’re fighting for freedom,” all the way down the spectrum to some crackpot conspiracy theory relating to the “illuminati” and somehow always ending in an endorsement for Ron Paul.

But one thing is for certain: when presented with more inquiries, nobody can really say what we are still doing there and what good we have really accomplished trying to occupy and build nations like Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a veteran of the Iraq war, I served with the greatest group of men in the world under the American flag. I fought during the surge, one of the most tense and deadly periods of the Iraq war.

I took life and saw many a good comrade lose his. As time went on, I continued to question why we were in a country that essentially did not want us to be there.

In December 2011, our country saw the last U.S. ground troops leave Iraq. The general consensus among my comrades and I was disappointment, as if we wasted irreplaceable lives and, in many ways, a part of our own souls for a country that neither wanted nor deserved our sacrifices. We did not fight for our country. We fought for each other. As a private military contractor, I operated in global hot-spots at my own risk for profit.

Sure, there were times when I questioned the motives of those who had sent me to do their bidding, but this was a different kind of combat with different rules and often better results. The choice to go into a danger zone is mine and mine alone, and it is often quite profitable.

But it still kills me to see my friends and loved ones head off into harms way for what seems like no good reason, often led by those who have never set foot on a battlefield themselves and fighting an enemy that blends into the local population.

Americans live fairly sheltered lives. While someone my age or older who grew up in America remembers Pac-Man, GI Joe and 9/11, the average Afghan of equivalent age remembers the last country who invaded them — the Soviet Union.

Try as they might, the Soviets could not quell, unite and colonize Afghanistan. Neither can we.

Over the centuries, Afghanistan has been occupied many times. Few conquerors bothered to subdue all of what is now Afghanistan.

The region is poor, and all the great conquerors throughout history have had a sense of what was worth fighting for. Fact is, Afghans are formidable warriors who just dig in and play the waiting game. They were not conquered because they were not worth conquering.

As a veteran of war, I can personally tell you it is a horrible thing. I can also tell you wars will never end. However, this war needs to end. It is a waste of money, a waste of resources and most importantly, a waste of our nation’s finest. TAS