by General Jerry Ralph Curry (Ret.)
ClashDaily.com Guest Commentator,
Have you ever wondered how many human lives a movie about Islam or a worn copy of a Koran is worth? If a Muslim in an Afghan prison defaces a Koran by writing in it and then passes the pages on to other Muslim prisoners, everything continues on smoothly and normally. There are neither demonstrations, mob violence, nor deaths.
If an American soldier tears a page out of that same Koran and writes on it, mobs of Muslims pour out into the streets like movie extras from a scene in a Star Wars movie and there is rioting, mayhem, and murder. Perhaps my wife, “Lady Char,” summed it up best one day when she asked, “When are the Muslims going to grow up and start acting like adults?”
Perhaps the answer is: after our president and Congress grow up and come to realize that no book or movie has the same value as a human life. Fortunately, our soldiers who are hazarding their lives on the middle-east battlefields aren’t as handicapped in their thinking as their leaders back in Washington.
They know that a single American life is more important than all the Korans in the world, even if the Muslims and the American President don’t know it. You can buy more Korans and make more movies, but you can’t buy more American lives. It’s time we quit groveling to these special interest, pseudo-religious groups and stood up for our soldiers, sailors and airmen, for their lives, futures, and welfare.
My experience has been that none of our soldiers should have to serve four or more involuntary tours in a God-forsaken land like Afghanistan. If our Commander-in-Chief and his senior government and military officials were really concerned about the lives of our military, they would insist that no one be deployed to a middle-east combat theater for more than three or so tours.
Obviously we can’t implement that kind of a fair and just policy because we don’t have enough officers and enlisted men on active duty to feed into the rotation cycle. But if we are going to continue with these inane foreign and military policies, we need to double or triple the number of men on active duty. If that means reinstituting a draft, then so be it. Worst case, it will help alleviate our domestic unemployment problem.
During the Vietnam War, some Viet Cong engaged the South Vietnamese regiment I was advising in a running fire fight. When we finally cornered them and were about to go in for the kill, they fled into a Buddhist pagoda and hid. I turned to my South Vietnamese colonel counterpart, shrugged my shoulders and said, “You know the rules of engagement, we must observe the sanctity of all South Vietnamese religious buildings. If they don’t come out voluntarily, we are forbidden to go in and get them.”
He nodded his head, called over his operations officer, spoke a few words in Vietnamese, and then announced a lunch break. Later, after lunch and tea, several soldiers came up to him carrying shoulder-fired rocket launchers. Again he nodded and they commenced blowing a huge hole in the wall of the pagoda. Then they threw in hand grenades, killed or captured the Viet Cong who were hiding inside, and we continued on with the mission.
By showing respect for the Buddhist pagoda, we Americans were trying to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese colonel was trying to win the battle. Our government needs to decide at which it wants to be victorious in the middle-east and in future wars.
Adopting a hearts-and-minds strategy sometimes makes sense, but it can be just as dangerous and stupid today as it has been sometimes in previous wars. The bottom line should always be that our soldiers are allowed to use whatever force they deem necessary to win a battle and to preserve their own lives and those of their fellow soldiers. And they shouldn’t have to get permission from some high ranking officer first.
If they make a legitimate mistake, they should get a slap on the wrist, not a court martial.
General Jerry Ralph Curry (Ret.)is a decorated combat veteran, Army Aviator, Paratrooper, Ranger and retired Army Major General. For nearly forty years he has served his country both in the military and as a Presidential political appointee, including for the Carter, Reagan & Bush 41 administrations.