Sunday, January 09, 2005

What is happening in Iraq because of the Vietnam experience – Part II

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for what I see going on around the world from us... The restructuring of the American Military gave us a connection, as a society to the warfighter/warfighting. In Iraq, it is now doing a third, most likely unintended benefit: With the mix of reservisits and National Guardsman who are operating far from home, they are able to share with the local population a variety of skills required for a nation not at war. Nation building, done by those prepared for war. Pretty cool. I just don't believe anyone in the planning in the 70's and 80's foresaw this. I've seen stories about a Guard lawyer who was tasked to help draft the Iraqi Constitution. There are stories of police officers, reservisits and Guard, who are working with the local fledging law enforement organizations, bringing them modern techniques and tactics. I'm sure there are countless stories that we will never hear, where someone's full time profession in the States, was used to assist in either social or business dimensions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Military personnel of this Nation have done us proud. They have set up schools, women's centers, parks and playgrounds. They have engaged the local populations in their sport of choice (soccer) and I read one story where a unit sent home asking for old bats, gloves and balls to set up a Little League league. Instead, they got all new equipment to hand over the Iraqi children to teach them baseball. Units have handed out school supplies, sent by a foundation set up by actor Gary Sinese. A multitude of other items have been sent from the US and donated to the children. In Afghanistan, one Army Soldier (Regular Army, but with a heart of gold), collected shoes to distribute. I could go on, but you get the point. As with the tsnami disaster, the American population opened it's wallets to do something we can because of our prosperity: give from our excess. The Iraqis and Afghanis who have benefited from these personal relationships, with our men and women who gave of themselves, and helped funnel even more compassion from our citizens who could not be there, will forever be changed. I'd venture for the good. This war, while maybe no different than the times of rebuilding Europe and Japan after WWII (which I must admit, I have not taken the time yet to see if there are parallels to this topic), it certainly will reap benefits in a more peaceful part of the world in years to come...and that's good for everyone, both here and there.

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