An Open Letter Home
by CSM James Pippin
A Georgia redneck, a Florida redneck and a Texan were sitting around a small catfish pond and noticed some catfish. They felt it would be a good idea to have a fish fry, but they didn’t have a fishing pole or net. They started to ponder techniques to catch some fish for the fish fry, when the Georgia boy dove in the water and tried to catch one. He dove in, splashed around and after 5 minutes of no luck he got out, frustrated and sat back down. The Florida boy then got up, went to his truck and got a shotgun. He began shooting at the catfish. He expended over 30 rounds and he too was unsuccessful. Frustrated, he sat back down. The Texas boy sat for a bit, finished his beer, and cut the top of the beer can off with his pocket knife. Then he calmly stood up and walked over to the small pond and dipped his empty beer can in the water and filled it up. Then he walked to the top of the dam and poured the water on the ground on the back side of the dam. He walked back to the pond and got another can full of water and as he walked by the 2 other rednecks, he stated with a drawl, “You boys better git comfortable, this may take awhile.”
This story relates to this war on terror. We may not realize many tangible results from this war, especially not if we have a timeline based on a news cycle or an election. But it’s worth every can full of water every day we fight over here. I am resolved to fight these bastards for however long it takes, every day until my retirement.
I am stationed in Mosul, Iraq and things are busy. We have about 15 - 20 incidents a day. An “incident” is an IED attack, enemy ambush, rocket attack against our vehicles, or a mortar attack against our FOB (Forward Operating Base aka where we live). We win every time whenever they stay and fight. But mostly, they hit us, then run away and blend into the crowd. We’re winning a day at a time. And we are taking the fight to them.
I would rather fight them where they live as opposed to quit the fight here only to have it come back to my home. I also realize we may very well get attacked on our own soil while we fight here. That, I believe is imminent. But as long as we continue to stay engaged with terrorists in their home countries, we remain proactive instead of totally reactive.
Most Americans say, “I support the troops.” “Supporting the troops” is far more than sending a care package, or shaking a service member’s hand, or tying a ribbon on their lapel. Supporting the troops should also be backing our mission.
People back home may not realize how effective this enemy is using the media as a weapon. Every time some talking head gets on the TV and shouts anything negative about this war, it motivates our enemy, who interprets dissent as weakness and who uses our free press against us. That is exactly how “the terrorists” win. For the Terrorist does not have to defeat us, he just has to outlast us.
I am disappointed in the way the American people in general seem to have lost their resolve since 9-11. When I hear that over half of America’s citizens believe this war is a lost cause, I think that is a tragedy. Less than 2/100ths of 1 percent of our own citizens have ever served in the armed forces, which means most Americans don’t have a clue about our military.
The media does not tell all the good things happening in Iraq. They rarely, if ever, report the successes of our Armed Forces. This causes our citizens, most of whom will never cross an ocean in their life, let alone fight in this or any war, to think we are losing and to believe we can’t win. This war is much like the 3 rednecks in the story above. It will take time. We CAN win, and we WILL win, but I worry that the American people have lost their patience and their support will dry up before we get the job done.
I hear the concern about America’s sons and daughters being killed and I know the media drum rolls the daily death toll. There have been more than 3,000 service members who have died fighting this war. And every one of those deaths is a tragedy. I, myself have lost a close friend. Contrary to the media reports, this war should be gauged by what is at stake if we lose. I believe the stakes of this war are even higher than those we faced together in both World Wars combined. In the words of Darryl Worley, “I say there are some things worth fighting for. Our freedom and the piece of ground we call The United States of America.” Don’t think for a second that terrorists will stop attacking Americans and our way of life just because we pull out of Iraq.
Prior to 9-11, The United States had tolerated terrorists’ attacks and threats far too many times. We launched a token missile here or we talked tough there. It took a terrorist’s attack on our own soil before we became decisively engaged. And it was about time. I remember the outrage and the resolve of a nation to fight for our country right after 9-11. If we stop now, we will most assuredly open ourselves to future attacks at home and abroad.
I am not so naïve to think that we will ever eradicate terrorism. However, we can, and we will win this fight, but we have to remain proactive. Proactive means hunting down terrorists, those who support terrorists, and those who tolerate terrorists and killing them. Fighting in Iraq means fighting an Insurgency, but it means fighting terrorists as well. Believe me, there are plenty in Iraq who meet the criteria noted above. If we back away from Iraq, the terrorist will have won.
When I remember the scenes we all saw on September 11th, 2001, I am reminded that I am still one pissed off American and Texan. This war is just, and I stand steadfast behind it and our President. And I will remain in the Army fighting this war until our President tells me to stop, or I get too old to continue. We need our nation’s support and prayers, not criticism, second guessing, and Monday morning quarterbacking.
The American Armed Forces has an empty beer can and the war in Iraq is like that small catfish pond. If the American people will be patient and supportive, we’ll have that fish fry.
Just my thoughts.