More on the Iraq Two Year Anniversary
This weekend at drill, I had my soldiers watch this episode of PBS's Frontline (available for purchase here). Overall, I thought that it was a good summary of the invasion. Of course, they left many things out, but I think this is another example of the excellent journalism that you get from PBS as opposed to CNN or Fox. Commercial news outlets just can't afford to have a commercial free in-depth show that lasts two hours. Then there wouldn't be any time to flash Lacy Peterson's face across the airwaves, and we all know what that can do the ratings.
One of the reasons that I showed the episode to my soldiers is because it does a good job of exploring the human costs of the war, especially to the Iraqi's. While I disagree with Marc Garlasco's evaluation of the effectiveness of the leadership targeting campaign, it is clear that we killed many innocents in our attempts to get people like Chemical Ali. I think the leadership targeting campaign had the net effect of keeping all those guys on the run so they couldn't mount an effective defense against the invasion. This saved lives on both sides.
But, what the documentary does--in a way that effective visual media can and print media can't--is show you the actually human cost. They interviewed an Iraq man who lost his family in an airstrike. It showed him explaining where he had dug his family out of the rubble, and then showed pictures of them. His wife, daughters, and mother were all killed in the attacked. Precious little girls blown to bits by a JDAM. A room full of soldiers is normally a boisterous bunch, but they were silent during that segment.
And that's exactly how I wanted them to be. As intelligence soldiers, its our job to tell people where the bad guys are. It is our judgment calls that can ultimately lead to things like collateral damage or an operational failure. And its not just "hajis" who die. Its old people and little kids, the people who we are trying to liberate.
The loss of innocent life is an unavoidable consequence of war, but it my job as a soldier to minimize it. The fewer families that have to be pulled out the smoking rumble of a shattered building, then the less appeal the insurgency will have. So, I thought using the documentary was an effective tool to hammer this point home. I hope it worked.
NOTE: I forgot that I'm not supposed to call my reserve duty "drill" anymore. It is a "battle assembly" now. I'll try to get it right next time.