Wednesday, February 14, 2007

VFW: ‘GIVE TROOP BUILDUP A CHANCE TO SUCCEED’

WASHINGTON (Feb. 9, 2007) – The national commander of the nation’s largest organization of combat veterans is very concerned that the ongoing debate in Congress about the planned troop buildup will be perceived by those in uniform as a sign that America’s lawmakers have given up on them and their mission in Iraq.
“My generation learned the hard way that when military decisions are second-guessed by opinion polls or overruled by politicians, it’s the common soldier and their families who pay the price,” said Gary Kurpius, a Vietnam veteran from Anchorage, Alaska, who leads the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. Close to half of the VFW’s 1.8 million members are Vietnam veterans.
“There is no question that mistakes have been made in the prosecution of the war in Iraq,” he said, citing a list that reveals more faults in planning than in execution, such as questionable intelligence assessments at the onset, invading with insufficient forces, the dismantling of the Iraqi army, and the absence of diplomats and civilian nation building experts.
“There is no playbook to fight an unconventional war against an unconventional enemy that wears no uniform and acts without conscience, yet our forces have adapted and are performing brilliantly,” said Kurpius, who provided Army convoy security in the central highlands of Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
“We have to let our generals be generals and wage this war as only they are trained to do, and have hope that the announced troop buildup will be the final key that’s needed by the Iraqis to build a secure and united country,” he said.
“We have to have hope that it’s not too late for the U.S. to make a difference in Iraq.”
Efforts to pass a non-binding resolution to criticize President Bush’s troop buildup have currently stalled in the U.S. Senate, but House leaders feel more confident in their ability to get enough votes for passage. A non-binding resolution has no legal authority; it merely expresses the sentiments of Congress.
That’s what worries Kurpius, who called the current debate a major distraction to U.S. forces because it does nothing to improve their morale or strengthen their resolve.
“We fully respect Congressional oversight and the First Amendment rights of all Americans to debate issues of national importance, but the VFW is very concerned with the tone and timing of it,” he said. “We need to send the message to our troops that America wants them to succeed in Iraq by giving the buildup a chance to succeed.”
Kurpius also said the American public needs to remember that Iraq is the centerpiece in a war against a new enemy that only has one goal: To destroy America.
“We must never forget what indiscriminate horrors our enemy is capable of, and never forget that the only reason 3,000 innocent people died on Sept. 11 is because this new enemy didn’t have the means to kill 30,000 or 300,000 or 3 million people,” he said.
“They will not leave America or our allies alone if we pull out of Iraq prematurely. Our sons and daughters in this fight know that, and that’s why they want victory, peace and stability in that region, and that’s why they want to destroy this new enemy — permanently. Our job is to support them.”

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Commander-in-Chief Gary Kurpius in the center, Old Sarge to his left.

I wonder what he's going to say about this latest spew from the mouth of John Murtha.

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