Each of us sees the world through the prism of his experience. In the case of the RedState/HUMAN EVENTS impending trip to Baghdad, Iraq to cover the state of the Iraq war, my personal experiences are both a driving force behind my motivation to go, and what will make my personal reporting on the war a bit different from what is currently available in the mainstream media.
As I’ve written in the past, I was in the Iraqi theater at the time Operation Iraqi Freedom’s (OIF) began, working as a tactical air controller with a Joint Special Operations Task Force, responsible for (among other things) providing short- and long-range communications and airstrike and artillery control for coalition SpecOps teams in-country. Working in such an elite force led to my being fortunate enough to participate in some landmark successes, such as the rescue of prisoner-of-war PFC Jessica Lynch — the first successful rescue of a U.S. POW since World War II.
Being a part of such a resoundingly successful mission — and there is no doubt that the “major combat operations” phase of OIF was just that — was an extremely rewarding experience. That, however, made me more sensitive — and more attuned — to the less-than-stellar three and a half years since those “major combat operations” ended. During that time, I have done my best to point out the missteps and poor decisions as I have seen them, and to recommend improved courses of action. However, though I have often doubted the country’s, the Congress’, and the President’s will and resolve, I have never doubted that our troops have both the ability and the determination to complete this mission successfully. All they have needed was the right leadership and the right commitment from those leaders. To this point, unfortunately, they have rarely gotten either.
The situation in Iraq appears to be improving at this time, though, and it is for that reason — as well as for the simple reason of wanting to see with my own eyes the state of something for which I was present at the inception — that I am especially eager to return and report from the battlefront itself.
Are we "winning"? Are we "losing"? Can it even be described in such simple terms? Given my personal experience in the theater, and my vested interest not only in our nation’s success, but also in getting the real story out in front of the American public, I am greatly looking forward not only to seeing the situation with my own eyes, but also to bringing a perspective tinged with experience to the current reportage on the Iraq war — a perspective the likes of which may not have been seen before.
My primary reason for traveling to the Middle East and inserting myself — again — into a combat zone is simply this: to assess — and experience — the current situation on the ground, both within the “Green Zone” and outside of it, and to report those facts — whatever they may be.
So, while I as a classical archaeologist am greatly looking forward joining my colleague Dr. Coates in getting our “academic boots on the ground” in Baghdad, it is my old, dust-covered, blood-type-labeled combat boots which I am most looking forward to putting on the ground and getting on the move in the War on Terror’s most dynamic combat zone later this month, for the purpose of seeing what is going on for myself, and for the purpose of using my perspective and experiences to bring information and insight back to the American people which cannot be found anywhere else.
(If you’d like to help make the RedStaters’ trip possible, click here to donate.)