Afghanistan Papers

The American Conservative posted piece calling the revelation of the Afghanistan Papers a #MeToo moment, with all sorts of former military folks and ‘experts’ coming out of the woodwork to say they knew also.

I have written about Iraq and Afghanistan since my first rotation in the middle east. I did most of my writing under a pseudonym ‘ElCid’, but it never would have been difficult to out me, I never hide where I was, what I did nor my rank and affiliation. I was not alone, there were many others, many posted on places like Soldiers for the Truth before that organization changed its focus. I was anti-war after my first rotation, not because I do not see the necessity of war, it was because I saw the futility of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I knew it early as a young man sitting in Shuras with village leaders, us passing out money to the old men were supposed to give to young men to get them to work instead of plant IEDs, it was obvious the old men sent the village idiots out to pick up trash for our money while the IEDs were still planted. I knew it sitting with Kurds in northern Iraq and them asking me tough questions about loyalty, trust and US policy that I could not honestly answer because none of it made any sense to me based upon true principles. It was obvious after going back much later to see the same spots that were once ‘tamed’ blow up in conflagration, nothing from before lasted. I knew it when assigned to train both Iraqi and Afghani troops, the appetite of higher-ups for ‘good news stories’ was insatiable. If you could not produce at least one storyboard per day talking about how great they were doing in their training or operations you were a failure, it did not matter that nothing good was going on, people made stuff up. It was most obvious working with a counter-terror finance team created as a result of SIGAR that MILLIONS of US dollars were being paid out to shell companies that directly or indirectly financed the adversary.

And the metrics, bafoons sitting in massive operations centers looking at elaborate COPs (massive digital displays) filled with drone feeds, metrics, and sundry data. It often reminded me of the body count nonsense for Vietnam, as a student of history, I wondered how we could be so stupid and foolish. Commanders thining that digital feeds and communications might allow them to actually understand what was going on.

If I am a hypocrite because I stayed in and went back for many more rotations, I will accept that title. I did it because I believed people that hold principles dear ought to serve. I also stayed because it was what God created me to do. A lot of people of conscience that I served with stayed for the same reason.

I am skeptical of those that want to make a now big deal of saying they knew, to come out like a hero and gain accolades in the media, especially those that did one rotation and got out years ago. If they knew, they ought to have been screaming the truth. Speaking up while one’s career might have been jeopardized would have been brave. Jumping on the bandwagon now because the MSM will give you a voice is a form of virtue signaling.

Author: Barry

Southerner, father, husband, Christian and a retired Army field grade officer. Author of five books and of several papers and articles on ethics, culture, history, geopolitics and military affairs. He is the Executive Director of The Calhoun Institute and a partner at B&B Clark Consulting.

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