civilian count versus military count (using terms I see in the press)

Let me begin by saying I have never served in the military. I have good friends who have served and have a relatively extensive knowledge of the Marine Corp through work association.

Does everything you count count? Sure. Especially when it comes to lives. When trying to win a war what counts more? Your own, theirs or the uninvolved? This is a tricky one. but. In general I see the press (media) kind of letting perspective get outa wack.

I don’t condone killing civilians in war (I guess that is kind of a given for everyone). But where do we do draw the line between letting someone do their job and risking their own lives? It is unfortunate but I guess politics and military have to coexist. And to be honest while I like some political “watchdog” over military (just to keep everyone on the straight and narrow) in general I believe the military is quite aware of their responsibility to “people & environment” and from what I have seen and heard take it quite seriously.

But they also have a job to do. Win a war. Minimize their own soldier casualties. Maximize the other soldier losses. So when do we draw the line on politically careful restrictions when it starts costing us our soldier’s lives.

It must be tough to be in the military and try and win a war these days. Once again I certainly don’t condone ‘civilian deaths’ (or “collateral damage”) in war but at some point don’t people need to be realistic?

To what extreme do we hinder soldiers from doing their job? At the expense of their own lives?

The job of a military commander in battle seems like it should be to win the battle at minimal cost (time, people, material) in order to proceed to the next battle with “the most” to engage at the maximum level time and time again.

Frankly, protecting our own soldiers benefits the final objective.

How far does it seem to be out of whack? Here we go. A recent example in a newspaper. Afghanistan.

“Insurgents pledge to disrupt elections and dramatically increase usage of roadside bombs.”

Combine that with US/NATO saying (in the same article) “protecting civilians is our highest priority.”

SoldiersBurdenI am not a military guy but something seems out of whack here. The bad guys are dialing up violence. The good guys (that is us in this case) are suggesting our priority isn’t getting the bad guys but rather minimizing risk to non combatants. Gotta tell ya. I would be happier if the good guys said something like “our priority is to minimize our good guy casualties and maximize the bad guy casualties.” Am I the only one who is concerned over this?

War has changed. I realize that. We see 40 casualties in one month now as unacceptable while 50,000 in one day at Gettysburg should maybe give us a moment to reflect on cost to win. Am I suggesting we go out and lose 50,000 of the good guys? Nope. Never. Just suggesting that war is .. well .. war. People die. And more people need to die if you want to win. I give you these numbers to try and give perspective (because not fighting wars on your own land causes some lack of reference).

Am I advocating “bigger losses”? Nope.

Do I know what a “reasonable” death loss would be in victory?  Nope. I am not a military guy. As a non military guy 1 is unreasonable (or how about even 1 is a high cost). But even I know that is unreasonable if we seek success.

So you know what?  I think it’s stupid for people like me (or the press) to be counting. I want the military counting and doing what it takes to win. Because I tend to believe they would like to win at the lowest count possible. And I sometimes think we diminish their military training and certainly are not showing the respect they deserve by questioning that fact.

But this rant isn’t about that. This rant is more how non military people dictating actions, by demanding overprotection of civilians, ultimately comes at the expense of our own soldiers lives (and winning I would guess).

And that is just damn stupid.

It just seems to me that by everyone making the focus individual soldier deaths and civilian losses we are losing sight of the fact our military is there to do a job. Our guys are trained. And trained to such a level that I have a hard time envisioning they are ineptly wandering around shooting anything and everyone in sight. I also have to be honest, I personally believe if I were in a situation where someone was shooting at me from a number of different directions I may be a little indiscriminate with regard to my own firing when trying to stay alive and keep my fellow soldiers alive.

And here is a further wacky thought. I am not sure the military would ever make it through the media gauntlet unscathed if it happened this way but if I had the choice of 480 casualties in one day and win versus 40 casualties a month and “maybe win”?  I gotta tell ya, I would let the military do their job and win in one month.

Okay. Maybe this rant is simply to make a point that I wish we could let the military do their job. They know what they are doing. Yes. We can always find exception examples if we dig hard enough. I could find exceptions in everything if I look hard enough. But these people have signed up and trained, and are very very good, to do a job. At some point we need to get out of their way and let them do it.

That said. Once again. Let me state I am not for indiscriminate killing. I just get frustrated when I see media story after media story repeating “25 soldier deaths this month the highest this year.” For god’s sake. People are shooting at each other. Is 25 too much? Heck. One is bad. But having met a number of these guys … they signed up to do a job. They fully understand the possible repercussions of their job. And trust me .. they are doing everything possible to not be on that list.

Bottom line. In my mind. Get politics out of the way, suggest media have some perspective and allow the military to do its job. Because our good guys are pretty good at what they signed up to do.

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Written by Bruce