It could be said that I closed my eyes and engaged in a leap of faith when I joined the US Navy in 2002. I had not intended to do such a thing, but the call to service for my country was too loud to ignore, and 5 years is not so much to give back to America. I had confidence in my leadership, despite some reservations about the dismissive nature of those at the top, whether it be dismissing our NATO allies offer of united struggle (economic & political, not just military, we don't need their militaries near as much as we need their money and shared responsibility) or dismissing the views of others after 9/11 who had other ideas and options on fighting terrorism. When Iraq was invaded, I kept any doubts silent and waved my flag, doing my best work I could for my nation. Even though my parents, retired Army (25 years in for both), began to notice serious flaws in planning and judgement on the part of the post liberation reconstruction efforts, I argued that my president knew what he was doing. The State Dept. was wrong, the Defense Dept. knew what it was doing. A year has passed. My best friend is dead, the finest Marine I knew, he who could run faster than anyone else, quote random passages of the Bible at request with passion and conviction, and convincingly explain molecular biology before a senior group of professors and scientists. He died in a firefight with insurgents in Fallujah, a nice name for murderers who blow up children's school buses, shoot nuns in the face, target moderate imams with lethal accuracy, slaughter the very aid workers at the UN and Red Cross trying to repair the damage of decades of oppression and war and plot even worse acts of senseless terror that will do nothing to better Iraq, only to ravage and ruin it. I blame these animals for his death, but I blame our nation's leaders for the circumstances that led to it. The doubts I'd ignored, the realities I'd avoided, the truth I'd hated to even acknowledge, its all here in full force. I can no longer ignore the chorus of conservative, moderate and liberal voices from military, diplomatic and political circles that ravage this adminstration for its mistakes. I don't believe you should be ravaged for mistakes, but the level of incompetence involved here is far beyond mistake, its willful and wanton stupidity. They liberated with a force much smaller than neccessary for the post-liberation task of reconstruction and security. In what would become a pattern of lambasting and ignoring high ranking military personnel who uttered realities they didn't like to admit, they told the Army Chief Of Staff he didn't know what he was talking about when he said he needed a much larger force than what was being envisioned. Others who commited this cardinal sin were similarily discredited and disrespected by self-proclaimed experts, the same people who said Iraqis would greet us with roses and hugs everywhere. With a small force, American troops were unable to keep a real presence in villages and cities, providing security and comfort to Iraqi civilians, the hearts and minds that must be won over to win any effort as large as this. Instead, the troops were moved to desert camps, far away from population centers that were then victimized by crime and bandits, while militias and insurgents were free to stockpile weapons and supplies for war against American troops. Gross Incompetence Strike 1 They disbanded the Iraqi army without ID'ing senior personnel with specific guerrialla warfare training and leadership traits, and without offering hundreds of thousands of needy, lethally trained and humuliated young men any semblance of a future. no money, no jobs, no nothing. just give up your weapons and go home. Gross Incompetence Strike 2 Dishonoring troops everywhere, the very same leaders then tried to blame a prisoner abuse scandal caused by leaders who gave entirely too much power and freedom to senior personnel and not nearly enough oversight and rule of law on junior personnel who were encouraged to use illegal tactics. Do you really believe that in a maximum security prision (or what passes for one in Iraq) that prisioners could be abused for days on end without superiors being aware? Bad policies lead to bad behavior. Bad leadership leads to bad behavior. There are no bad troops, only bad generals. Gross Incompetence Strike 3 What the heck is going on in Washington?