Monday, May 21, 2007

"No Man Left Behind" Redux

The hunt for the three kidnapped American soldiers continues. According to this report the search is taking a toll on our soldiers. There is also a suggestion that the hunt has decreased the number of troops available for Green Zone security and that may explain, in part, today's mortar bombing of the Parliament Building. One fact that seems beyond dispute is that other troops are dying in this search.

Following the "No Man Left Behind" creed is a tricky proposition. I believe strongly that the policy aids troop morale generally. But I am concerned about following it when the chances of saving those are so dire that it seems we are going to lose more soldiers in an effort that is likely in vain. I discussed this issue previously regarding the captured and still missing American soldier, Ahmed Qusai Al-Taie. For him, we started with the creed and abruptly called the search of at the beckoning of Nouri Al-Maliki (acting quite possibly on a call from Al-Sadr). The decision stunk of political expediency, and quite possibly racism, instead of a calm and sober pragmatism.

Here the military leadership has put so much into the search that a pull back will be a blow to morale. On the other hand, we clearly lack the troops to conduct this search, maintain the surge and continue with all the other burdens that have been piled on our soldiers.

The optimist in me prays for the miracle that these troops are found alive. However, the realist in me believes the odds they are alive is too low to justify losing numerous other troops in the ongoing search. The military has made a tremendous effort to recover the three soldiers. An effort that any other soldier can certainly appreciate will be made on his or her sake under similar conditions. But I believe most if not all of the soldiers would not want a search and rescue effort that is becoming self-destructive to continue, even for themselves.


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