So many of you have been so kind throughout all of this. When the AP release hit the net today I realized that most everyone who has been tracking the progress of this effort have never seen the original letter I wrote to our delegation in DC. The issue was important then and and even more so today. Since then, dozens on men have died staying in compliance with the current COIN strategy and its ROE; including my Son.
We have continued this fight because there are still too many Marines and Soldiers on the ground over there who will continue to die because of these Rules of Engagement. President Obama intends to release his decision, by the end of this week, on what the strategy should be as we go forward with the operation in Afghanistan and he is likely to accept much of what General McChrystal has recommended. The one caveat in the Stratfor/AP report of this announcement today was that he intends to lean even more heavily on the side of the civilian population. This means, most certainly, heavier American casualties.
The original letter:
Congressman Mike Michaud 7/09/2009 08:01
1724 Longworth HOBWashington, DC 20515-1902
I am writing to you today as an American citizen, 26 year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, committed Christian, Husband, Father of two and a businessman. I am also writing to you as the Father of a Marine who is, as all of his brothers in arms are, in harms way. That by itself is not a cause for concern for me because as a Warrior I understand two things:(1) it is the very nature of the calling to which we have been called that we will be thrust into dangerous, even life threatening situations to fight the enemies of our country and (2) that there could not possibly be a safer place to be than in the company of fellow Marines. In any case, that is the nature of the business and those who serve in this capacity have long since dealt with the realities of life in uniform.
There are, however, certain expectations, an unspoken trust within the ranks of those of us who serve and have served in this capacity. One of those is that we have a belief that as Americans, our leadership will not frivolously spend our blood on unworthy pursuit. To those of us who serve, let me be very clear to those of you who hold our lives in your hands; this means that the reason we may die can ultimately be defined as protecting homeland, family and fellow American lives (spelled US citizens). We also assume we will not be used as pawns in some personal vendetta or worse some career building scheme; that we will not be asked to spill our blood in a foreign land to defend the indefensible. We expect we will be able to do that for which we were trained; export violence with ferocity and drive our enemies to their knees with the ultimate goal of ending the conflict by forcing them to do our will. Such are the dreams and aspirations of the Warrior. Men like this seek to serve side by side with like-minded men prepared to meet their destiny on the field of battle; living a life of honor while testing personal courage in the forge of combat. Our nations Warriors have no other expectations, no visions of grandeur, no careers to bolster, no kingdoms to lord over, no sovereignty to subvert. These men just seek to serve their country.
Now that you have ever so basic an understanding of the intrinsic nature of the Warrior; I hope to encourage you to show them at least the dignity of thoughtful and painstaking decision-making when considering when and where to thrust them into the fires of hell. My demand is that you emphatically understand that this decision will have eternal consequences for the men involved and their families. I also expect this decision to be for the simple reason of defense of country and countrymen (again spelled United States Citizens).
If any part of you still understands that you were sent to Washington DC for the sole purpose of defending these shores and to defend the ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’ of the citizens of this nation; and if you still believe you are first a servant of all, then you yet may possess the ability to understand the immorality of what I am about to share with you and the necessity to change this policy NOW.
President Obama has seen fit to replace the sitting ISAF commander with a General McChrystal (see Bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_A._McChrystal). Suffice it to say that Gen McChrystal’s understanding of the Warrior ethos is somewhat askew from the mainstream. Also let us cut to the chase and identify him more as a political mouthpiece than a field commander. Add to this the dubious addition of General James L. Jones (see bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_L._Jones), who unlike McChrystal has actual combat experience but still shares the same ultimate goals and one world vision as both McChrystal and Obama. What you have here is an unholy trinity injecting their shared philosophy of ‘spare the civilians at all cost’ – even though those civilians are not US citizens and are in fact complicit in their own misfortune. The new ROE presented by McChrystal and under which operation Khanjar was mounted is nothing less than disgraceful, immoral and fatal for our Marines, Sailors and Soldiers on the ground. The Marines and Soldiers that are ‘holding’ territories of dubious worth like Now Zad and Golestan without reinforcement, denial of fire-support and refusal to allow them to hunt and kill the very enemy we are there to confront are nothing more than sitting ducks. Denying them even the ability to fight, which is their only purpose for existing, to defend themselves in a foreign land that sees them first as agents of the devil is detestable to the secular world and immoral to the rest of us. And for those of us with ‘vested interests’ thrust into that foreign land; it angers us. The links I have provided will give you some indication of the insanity of the current situation and the suicidal position this administration has placed these Warriors in. I admonish this administration and all those currently in public office whom we have entrusted with our security, well-being and the very lives and well-being of the best of us, our Warriors to start acting like you actually care or even understand the consequences of ludicrous decisions like this one. I then hold you responsible to actively seek to change this immoral policy to one that allows our Warriors the opportunity to do what they were trained to do; destroy our enemies and protect our citizenry.
To those who would suggest that COIN (counter insurgency) is complicated I say hog-wash. This has become the mantra of the one-world ideologues. This has become complicated because leadership has lost its way. It is not the responsibility of the leaders (servants) of this country to re-build a country that has not been destroyed by us nor does the leadership of this country have any intrinsic right to spill the blood of this country’s finest for this cause. I’ll lay it out for you; bad guys entered this country, unannounced and unwelcome and killed Americans on American soil. Bad guys continue to harass and threaten to kill Americans here at home and abroad. Bad guys continue to train in foreign lands and continue to plan to carry out these plans against sovereign American citizens. They have no rights or guarantee of protection under the Constitution of the United States because they are not United States citizens. They are not protected by the Geneva Convention because they don’t fight under any Nation’s Flag. We however, have the right – and responsibility, with historical and Biblical precedent to export violence to crush these Bad guys, wherever they may live and in whatever lair they may hide – relentlessly! If the civilian populations in those areas lack the intestinal fortitude to expel them from their midst or they quietly support them or they actively support them; they are not innocent and may well suffer ill consequences for their cowardice and their complicities.
For those of us who have served in uniform and for those of us who have family forced to serve under these immoral conditions the time to quietly observe and pray has ended. There is a new activist emerging; not like the cannabis induced flailing of the sixties and seventies but one with the discipline, training and tenacity of a Warrior. Those of us who have a history in this Warrior culture and a vested interest on the battlefield will be a lot more vocal from this point on. Those in this culture who do not yet know about this immoral ROE change will soon all know as well as the families of those who are imperiled by it. Those who have actively supported this policy of immorality or are not engaged enough to know of it; they will be re-introduced to your constituencies for their failings. Public service is precisely what it portends to be; service. If there are those among your number who have failed to remember that I can promise you we will make that known within our spheres of influence.
This letter is making its way through the halls of every national news agency as well as the local ones in Maine, as you read this. I have contacted your office by phone, e-mail and now letter to give you a chance to get out in front of it. Consider this a wake-up call.
John J. Bernard
1stSgt USMC ret