Soldiers, Veterans Speak Up Against Any Syria Action

Monday, 02 Sep 2013 09:14 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Active military members and veterans are speaking out against U.S. intervention in the two-year Syrian civil war, saying the nation is too "stretched thin, tired and broke" to enter yet another open-ended conflict in the Middle East.

Soldiers are taking to social media sites such as Twitter and Reddit to ask why the United States needs to enter the war, with many responding to a tweet from Republican Rep. Justin Amash Saturday after President Barack Obama announced he'd seek Congressional debate on the Syrian issue.

"I've been hearing a lot from members of our Armed Forces," Amash tweeted. "The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria."

The Michigan lawmaker has been retweeting the public's thoughts since Saturday through his profile, reports Business Insider, which sought more extended comments from veterans concerning U.S. involvement in Syria.

And while Obama has promised there will be no "boots on the ground," many in the military are saying they do not believe him, and think that limited strikes against President Bashar Assad's regime will lead to further action in the war-torn country.

One active duty soldier, whose name or sex was not revealed, said the Syrian conflict is full of conflicting views.

"Part of me says that we need to take a stand against chemical weapons," the soldier wrote Business Insider. "The red line was crossed. But does the U.S. always have to be the one to deliver consequences? We are stretched thin, tired, and broke."

The soldier, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, said the chemical weapons will have to be disarmed, "and that's just not a job I want anything to do with. And I don't want my soldiers doing it. Not only is the process long and exhausting, it's dangerous in different ways than we have been dealing with."

Former Cpl. Jack Mandaville, a Marine Corps infantry veteran who served three deployments in Iraq, told Business Insider that when he first went overseas in March 2003, there were many Vietnam-era veterans who opposed the invasion.

"Like the majority of my peers and superiors, I didn't really care nor did I give it much thought. We just wanted our war," he said.

But 10 years later, Mandaville said, his generation recognizes "the Iraq folly for what it was…Iraq was completely unnecessary and cost way too much money and, more importantly, American lives."

The "Syria debacle," Mandaville said, too closely resembles Iraq.

Soldiers are also commenting on Reddit, in a thread that includes photographs of some people in miltary uniform, holding signs over their faces that proclaim how they disagree with becoming involved in Syria.

"I didn't join the Navy to fight for Al-Qaeda in a Syrian civil war," one sign, held over the face of a man wearing a uniform with several ribbons proclaims, in a picture shown on Reddit and the San Francisco Chronicle's website.

Another sign, held by a man in a U.S. Marine Corps uniform that bears several medals, including a Purple Heart, also proclaims that he did not join the Marines to fight for Al-Qaeda.

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