Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Video: A perspective from a liberal veteran on the reality of War

Daily Kos: The Video: A perspective from a liberal veteran
Back form traveling and other things - here is a perspective on the Wikileaks video that I found useful and realistic in terms of the experiences of a war veteran.

"This video affects me deeply on a personal level because it conjures up many painful emotions. I am writing this diary, in part, to give a perspective to those who are looking to understand, but also as a form of therapy for myself.

First, I want to explain some of the emotions and feeling that I went through in my tour in Afghanistan, and how they still affect me today. Then, I want to talk a little more about the video and the tendency to cover up these things.

If you are interested, follow below."

* ranger995's diary :: ::

"When I went to Afghanistan, I was assigned to train, mentor, and advise a company of Afghan National Army troops. At the time, I believed in the mission, and supported the idea of helping Afghanistan return to a state of stability and peace that they had ca. 1940-1974. I learned to speak, read, and write Dari, the Afghan dialect of Persian/Farsi, and I made a serious effort to be sensitive to Afghan and Muslim culture.

We spent the first 6 weeks in and around Kabul, which was very safe at the time, and I actually enjoyed it. I was learning a lot about Afghanistan history and culture. Then, they sent us to Kunar province along the Pakistan border.

In Kunar, my Afghan company and I were assigned to a Marine Battalion. Our mission tempo was very high, meaning the Marines used us like crazy, and we had enemy contact almost on a daily basis.

IEDs were the most dangerous threat, and they were a common occurrence. Several had killed ANA in my company, as well as Afghan Police and Marines on the roads that I used daily. They were impossible to spot, and this made driving a very nerve wracking process. The tension built up over time. Once I was driving in the front of a convoy, and drove right over an IED and never noticed it, nor did the 8-10 vehicles who went over it behind me. Luckily for me, the people firing the device wanted to hit a bigger target, a Marine vehicle farther along in the convoy--not so lucky for them, 4 were seriously injured, and 1 later died of his wounds.

When you are hit by an IED there is no fight. There is no opportunity to get the people who caused you this harm. Along with the constant feeling of fear, comes a deep seated hatred for those that are the cause of the stress. My mind went to very dark places, I wanted those people dead. I wanted to do it myself, up close. You may not understand these emotions, and I have difficulty today with them. Writing these words makes me very emotional. Even today I have violent visions for conflict resolution, both in my dreams and waking thoughts. I have envisioned doing horrible things to people--I have to deal with that constantly.

When we actually got into shooting engagements, this fear and hatred took control. I fired my machine gun, grenade launcher, or M4 with an anger that later horrified me. I became completely desensitized when several of my close Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded recovering the body of a Marine. After that, I felt euphoric in a fight, especially when we killed the enemy.

Once, when we were delivering a MEDCAP, which is a mission that involves medics treating people in a small village, we were attacked by a sniper. We had to abandon the mission, and many people wished we would just bomb the village. I have to admit that for a brief moment, I shared this feeling. Then, I began to think about it, and became horrified at what I was becoming. Luckily, I controlled these emotions and always chose my targets. I never fired on innocent people, but the urge was there. I wondered if they weren't pretending and in some way helping the other side." More at the link above

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