Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Heavy" Casualties in Marjah


I debated with myself a bit before posting today, because what I'm about to say has the potential to be badly misunderstood. But I think we need to look at the issue anyway.

This news article discusses the loss of six NATO troops in the ongoing offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The headline reads "heavy casualties."

I think this illustrates one of the problems America has in sustaining a war effort in this day and age. Why do I say this?

Let's look back at World Wars I and II. Look at the daily losses then in a battle. That is what I call heavy casualties. Six combat deaths doesn't rank up there with heavy casualties.

Please understand. I am not in the least diminishing the loss of six soldiers. For the families involved, it is a heavy casualty. I support and admire our troops. My target is the way that the media reports on the war, and the impact it has on public support.

Since the Vietnam War, America has built a reputation that we are casualty-averse. What that means is this. Our enemies think if they hold out long enough, and inflict enough casualties, American public opinion will turn against the war effort and we'll demand that the troops come home. Headlines like this help add to that perception.

I really have to wonder if we would be able to fight a conflict like World War II anymore. Imagine a battle with thousands of casualties instead of just six. What would the media be reporting, and what would public opinion be? Do we even have the ability anymore to sustain a war, even if we are the attacked party?

Even worse, we are so hamstrung by the desire to avoid civilian casualties that we tie our military's hands even further. In Afghanistan right now, the thugs shoot at our troops, then put their guns down and come out of their lairs to wave mockingly at our troops, knowing that we aren't allowed to shoot unarmed men. It's a joke.

But such is modern, politically correct warfare.

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