Guest Writer Brandon Schnurr
You can wake up in the morning, free and safe from some of the most dangerous people in the world thanks to a select group of people. While you wake up, smell the beautiful summer air, and have a cup of hot coffee, these men and women around the world wake up to do physical training drills at 4:00 a.m. and then fight for your freedom, all the while putting their lives on the line. If you’re thinking of the men and women of the U.S. Military, you guessed right.
Military deployments to the Middle East have long been a necessity since the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center by Al-Qaeda, sparking a conflict known as the War on Terror. Starting with Operation Enduring Freedom, launched on October 7, 2001, we put the first Marines into the Middle East to employ search and destroy tactics to dismantle terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
This brings us to the primary point of this article; we need to keep deploying troops to the Middle East.
Current troop deployments are mainly aid, rotation, or training missions. In other words, we are there to help the Middle East’s civilians, to get new units in to replace old units and to train and arm local military assets, like Afghan National Military & Security Forces. Since only a small portion of our deployed forces see fighting in large conflict areas, most of our forces are safe from enemy combatants.
Others may say, “Even though we are away from fighting, they are still in danger.” While this is true, we are mostly behind friendly lines, and those who are on the front line are surrounded by a large scale of allied forces. This is to ensure the safety of our military, and even though an insurgent attack is possible, it is very unlikely.
According to The Washington Post, the new Secretary of Defense in President Trump’s cabinet, Jim Mattis, also a former Marine general, drew up the outline for a plan to combat ISIS and other terror organizations, which was then “filled in” by General Joseph Votel.
We currently have two large scale operations underway; Operation Inherent Resolve, which focuses on stabilization and return of government power to Afghanistan, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, drawn up by Secretary of Defense Mattis, which focuses on training, advising, and assisting local forces fighting terrorism, along with some counter-terrorist missions. Many of our deployments, though, are units of soldiers and Marines being deployed/rotated in staging areas, which are where units will launch an operation from.
Without these troop deployments, the Middle East could fall into pure chaos, more than it has already, and could result in a total takeover by terrorist forces. This would allow for a large staging ground for terrorist activity and even result in the invasion of other countries by ISIS, Al-Qaeda, etc. It would also mean that all resources spent on the area would be completely wasted. We are literally in a situation we can’t get out of, and we’re in it for the foreseeable future.
The Pentagon currently declines to state the number of troops in the Middle East for National Security reasons, but it is roughly three thousand to five thousand troops. Compared to troops deployments in wars such as Vietnam, where approximately five hundred thousand men were deployed and there was a draft, this is a skeleton crew.
Something we also must remember is that these men and women signed up to be deployed. These soldiers and Marines are ready to do anything in support of their country, no matter what.
“Our soldiers are ready to conduct Sustainment operations in support of this [Operation Freedom’s Sentinel] operation,” said Colonel Michael Lor of the 1st Armored division in an interview with The Army Times.
While the soldiers/Marines didn’t say they wanted to be deployed to the Middle East, and they may even disagree with what we are doing there or that we are there at all, it’s not like it’s a choice. Once you are deployed, you listen to a chain of command, and currently, that chain of command is focused on efforts in the Middle East.
We need to deploy these troops to help support allied forces in eliminating hostile terror groups. While our allies could attempt to take on ISIS and other terror organizations themselves, the last time the U.S. attempted that, we needed to cancel an exit plan due to territorial gains by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We have also been met with extreme resistance in Mosul from ISIS fighters.
Now that we have deployed U.S. Military forces, we are making great gains, with half of Mosul now taken and more falling to us. Without our forces, the Middle East will once again fall into chaos.