A Salute to The American Soldiers in Iraq

What ever the politics of Iraq, a tribute is due to the valiant soldiers and marines of the US Armed Forces who are doggedly staying the course despite suffering heavy casualties during the month. The fatality figure crossed the 100 mark and if the ratio of killed to wounded in Iraq is 1:8, then about 800 wounded could be expected. The figure of wounded is reported to have touched 300 in the first week of October itself. This brings the total wounded to over 20,000 in Iraq.

The death count has now crossed the 2269 deaths in the first attempt at unifying Iraq made by the British, post the First World War. Fortunately modern medicine and surgical assistance very close to the battlefield and facilities for evacuation has reduced the propensity of deaths in wars. The American soldiers have the best medevac as well as surgical facilities ever provided to soldiers on the battlefield. It is this attention and concern to the life of men which perhaps has seen many soldiers coming around for a second round of fighting some of them wounded physically but with their pride intact.

As a fellow soldier of the past, my heart goes out to these valiant men and indeed women, who are the true flag bearers of democracy, not those who are ensconced in the multiple layers of security in Washington’s bureaucracy, not even those who may be getting into the Congress in a couple of months.

America survives as a free nation because of these true soldiers of the soil. For the battles in Iraq are furious, the silence even more eerie and the enemy a ghost who has no solid form. Fighting under these circumstances is certainly a walk through a mine field. Only this mine field is neither marked nor has standard ordnance. It is a mine field of warped imagination, where a brick, an abandoned vehicle or a pressure cooker has been converted into a booby trap sprung when the victim is least expecting it.

It is a war of unequals, for the technology and human intelligence has no role to play in this conflict. It is a battle of cunning, deceit, of maximization of ones tactical advantage.

But the American soldier is facing the challenges with a stout heart and perhaps it he or she who would ultimately carry the day in Iraq, providing the much needed peace to the Iraqi people after decades of suppression, uncertainty, death and destruction.

Rahul K. Bhonsle is a Strategic Risk and Knowledge Management Consultant and writer with specific focus on defence and security, especially in South Asia.