BILL CRAWFORD: Honor true heroes with leadership

By Bill Crawford

This Memorial Day we will honor true heroes, the men and women of our Armed Services who sacrificed their lives to keep us free.
Last year Senator Thad Cochran, a Veteran himself, gave thanks for the bravery and dedication of those who fought and died in defense of our country. “They are true heroes, and we owe them our solemn gratitude for their service and sacrifice,” he said
The website FreedomRemembered.com shows 37 Mississippi casualties, 17 from military operations in Afghanistan. Take a moment on your holiday and visit that website. Take a look at the photos and stories of these young men and women. Understand their sacrifice. Then, appreciate Memorial Day for what it is, so much more than a holiday.
As we remember, we should also reflect upon why these sacrifices are occurring. Indeed, this may be a time for leaders to question why they continue.
Last week the New York Times reported that Afghan soldiers turned and ambushed American forces.
“The shooters were close,” a U.S. soldier realized according to reporter Matthew Rosenberg. “Are Taliban inside the wire?”
“But it was not the Taliban. Over the next 52 minutes, as his company of paratroopers braved bullets and rocket-propelled grenades in the predawn darkness to retake one of their own guard towers in southern Afghanistan, they found themselves facing what has become a more pernicious threat: the Afghan soldiers who live and fight alongside the Americans.”
Two Americans died in that firefight. Rosenberg said 22 have died in such skirmishes this year.
The Times report follows release earlier this month of a dismal Pentagon report on Afghanistan that said operations continue “to face both long-term and acute challenges.”
“The insurgency benefits from safe havens inside Pakistan with notable operational and regenerative capacity,” it said. “The insurgency remains a resilient and determined enemy and will likely attempt to regain lost ground and influence this spring and summer through assassinations, intimidation, high-profile attacks, and the emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Additionally, the Afghan Government continues to face widespread corruption that limits its effectiveness and legitimacy and bolsters insurgent messaging.”
The Powell Doctrine, developed by Gen. Colin Powell and supported by the late Sonny Montgomery, says if you don’t have or lose “a clear attainable objective,” don’t go or get out. The doctrine’s intent, which Bush 41 followed and Bush 43 ignored, was for U.S. forces to obtain decisive victories, minimize loss of lives and treasure, and end conflicts quickly.
Latest Department of Defense reports count 1,852 American lives lost in the 11-year Afghan war, 15,950 wounded. The impact on families and futures cannot be estimated.
Let us remember and honor our true heroes, but also push our leaders to be true to them and our military doctrines.
Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.