Over the past week several events have captured the news that should put Iraq and Afghan War veterans into a state of dismay. The sacrifice made in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 by countless military men and women is now open to question with news that al Qaeda is making a resurgence in places where hard-fought battles were won in Iraq. In addition, instead of a sense of order and stability in the Middle East the media is filled with reports of strife in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, and Kenya.
Afghanistan, the other war, does not seem to be yielding great promise. President Karzai continues to refuse to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) which would allow NATO and U.S. military troops to remain beyond December 2014. Opium production is at an all time high, the Taliban were not defeated this past 2013 fighting season, and governance has not improved significantly to offer the Afghan population a positive view of the future. To top it all off we find that, from excerpts of Robert Gates book, President Obama and his White House staff have less than positive views of the military and the mission in Afghanistan.
Read the thoughts of a participant in both wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) about the two Presidents who presided over the wars, the legacy they will leave, and his thoughts on leadership in "A Bitter Pill to Swallow", Tampa Bay Times, January 13, 2014. The author served in the US Navy SEALs, worked in Iraq in the Hostage Working Group at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and served as a Counterinsurgency Adviser for the COMISAF Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT) in Afghanistan.