Before our loved ones take that first shot across the bow:
We're not out of Afghanistan. Nope. We're not. In fact, service members are still scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next year. "Troop withdrawal" is not part of the catchy sound bites being feed to the American public lately nor is "out by 2014" or was it 2013? Here's your cheat sheet: Right now there are no plans for a complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Bombing another country is not like picking up milk on the way home. Contrary to recent comments made by Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, when discussing possible military action in Syria, bombing another country does impact military families even if it is "simply" done on the way home. Let me quote Ms. Starr:
...I don't think it's really going to affect military families at all. This is going to be, if it is ordered, a cruise missile strike, no U.S. troops on the ground, Navy ships out in the eastern Mediterranean that would be on deployment anyhow.
I'm certain the military families whose loved ones are on those ships are very concerned about the possibility of them becoming involved in military action against Syria. Military families also fear retribution towards service members already in the Middle East.
McDonald's workers can strike. Service members cannot. In a response to a reporter's question regarding Syria, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the military was "ready to go, like that." After over a decade of war, the fact that the military is "ready to go, like that" is a testament to the incredible individuals who make up our armed forces. Americans have never had to hear, "you cut our benefits so we're not going." Or "you sent us to war too many times so we're sitting this one out." But, if we continue at this pace plus add the hammer of sequestration, America may soon have a military that is not ready with military families who are beyond burnt out.
Sound bites bite. No boots on the ground. Shot across the bow. I remember another really great sound bite: Mission Complete. Launching missiles into a highly volatile situation is as predictable as swinging a stick at a hornet's nest. Well, maybe it is predictable. To quote Secretary of State John Kerry on whether or not the U.S. would rule out putting troops on the ground in Syria:
I think the president will give you every assurance in the world, as am I, as is the secretary of defense and the chairman, but in the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of somebody else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies and all of us, the British, the French, and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements, I don't want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.
No. Options. Off. The. Table.
Cross your fingers....
No boots on the ground. Shot across the bow. Limited military action. Cross your fingers America. Let's all hope those sound bites hold true for once. After twelve years at war, military families are proficient in saying goodbye. However, that doesn't mean it is in everyone's best interest that we keep saying it.