Why soldiers do what they do

I’d say that anyone who has served in the military knows that soldiers don’t fight for grand ideas, go into battle thinking, “I am fighting for the freedom of the world.”

Soldiers are never idealists; they are about as practical and pragmatic as can be. You don’t discuss politics or the theory of democracy when the bullets are flying.

Soldiers go into battle because they’ve been ordered to, and they go and do their best, risking being grievously wounded or killed, not to garner praise from beribboned generals. They don’t think, “I think I’ll try for a medal today.”

Why then do they move forward into enemy fire?

It’s simple: because soldiers don’t want to let their buddies down. Soldiers fight for the others in their outfit. Ask any veteran and he or she will tell you the same. Soldiers in the same unit build a tight bond. They would never think of betraying a comrade in arms.

This is why the American troops, who don’t know any more than I do about American policy in the Middle East (only that it’s a mess), are filled with shame. These American soldiers who for five years fought with the Kurds, who slept and ate with the Kurds, and who, perhaps, showed one another photographs of families with the Kurds, hunkered down together to avoid enemy fire with the Kurds, who buried the dead with the Kurds, are deserting the Kurds, retiring from the unfinished battle.

Our commander in chief ordered American troops to vacate northern Syria, to leave their Kurdish allies at the mercy of the Turkish war machine, and now the Russians, too, Putin just having made a deal with the Turkish president.

Does anyone believe the Russians and the Turks will treat the Kurds with benevolence and restraint? Turks and their allied henchmen have already murdered numerous Kurdish civilians and fighters and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing from their ancestral homes.

Those troops ordered to pull out of Syria feel they betrayed their buddies, as if they had cut and run. To them this despicable action, this retreat, is tantamount to leaving a wounded pal on the battlefield, to being a coward and running away during battle.

I don’t care what the policy is: American troops never abandon their own, whether American or an ally, to the enemy, just pack up and go, and leave those behind to slaughtered.


Infantryman, U. S. Army, 1964-67 Florence

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