It was mid-July four years ago that the men and women of the Gunner Battalion packed up our gear in Kuwait to redeploy to our families. We just finished a nearly 15 month combat tour that took us from patrolling the garbage strewn streets of Baghdad to torn up neighborhoods of Najaf. Our soldiers witnessed a transition from eating dinner in the homes of the Iraqi people in the summer of 2003 to battling every day farmers who joined Muqtada Al Sadr's uprising during the spring of 2004.
Our soldiers represented a beacon of hope to many Iraqi people as they were excited that we were bringing them the American dream. Unfortunately, Washington's failure to provide us the proper planning, equipment, or even strategy was evident when we were unable to provide even the basic services or support that any human would expect and deserves. As our relationship with the Iraqi people began to unravel, so did the war.
Here we are four years later, over 4100 soldiers killed, countless Iraqi casualties, extremism is on the rise, and America's international standing falling fast. Our soldiers continue to do everything we have asked them to do while Washington failed to provide the political, economic, and diplomatic strategies necessary to support their brave efforts. They have courageously dealt with "mission accomplished," staying the course, the Iraq Study Group (which was thrown out after the 2006 election), and the Surge while returning for multiple tours without the proper recovery or equipment. The American military continues to do everything we have asked them to do, and more.
Washington, on the other hand, continues to be paralyzed by a lack of leadership that refuses to ask the right questions, refuses to hold accountability for those war profiteers who put our troops at risk to line their pockets, or act to bring our troops home safely, securely and soon. Here we are four years later and the Iraqi Prime Minister and National Security advisor have called for a withdrawal timeline so to ensure we are not building permanent bases while we spend $5,000 per second to "reconstruct" their nation, but suffer from $4.30 at the pump at home.
Americans are hurting, Iraqis are hurting, and the world is hungry for our nation to return leadership by example to Washington. It is time to strategically redeploy our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much. We must remain engaged in the region and find ways to address the crisis of Iraqi refugees in places like Syria or Jordan so they do not become radicalized and a destabilizing force. It is time for leaders in Washington who will work to understand the problems and not just spew the tired talking points of their parties.
Here we are four years later and America remains at war, our economy is breaking, and working families are struggling with rising food and gas prices. This election will be about bringing a responsible end to this war, implementing a policy to secure our energy independence, and reinvesting in America by putting our working families back to work. This is election represents a once in a generation opportunity to get our country back on track, and I believe that together we have the power to change Washington.