Protesters target JBLM encouraging soldiers to skip missionon October 15, 2012 @ 7:00 am (Updated: 8:14 am - 10/15/12 )
JBLM has been blanketed with leaflets and posters in the last week. They are telling members of the 4th Stryker Brigade that they don't have to go on this tour to Afghanistan to "risk life and limb for the failed policies of politicians who don't care about us." The leaflets are being carried on base by soldiers.
Iraq war vet Mike Prysner is one of the people passing the leaflets out. This is what he believes is going on in Afghanistan.
"The strategy that they are favoring in Afghanistan today is this kind of slow-motion retreat where they acknowledge they're inevitably going to have to leave the country and withdraw defeated, but they are paving that exit with the bodies and limbs of U.S. soldiers and of Afghan people simply to save face."
He and other protesters are encouraging soldiers to skip this upcoming deployment by becoming conscientious objectors or going AWOL or trying to find a medical reason to avoid the tour.
The leaflets talk of their rights to object and how they can find help to do it.
"Because the politicians and the generals are acting with such reckless disregard of the lives of service members," Prysner said, "we want them to know they have alternatives to having their lives thrown away."
This is the first time these anti-war veteran's groups have directly targeted a unit heading for a deployment. It's the latest strategy to try to end the war.
I caught up with an active duty soldier just off base. He didn't want me to use his name. He appreciates the effort of the protest groups. He just wrapped up his second tour in Afghanistan. He said a lot of soldiers on base don't see the point of this war anymore.
"War sucks no matter what," he said. "When I went over there in '09, there was still this sense of purpose. Now you go over there and seems like you're checking a block, you're making the slide green. You're not accomplishing anything, and it sucks."
Now this soldier doesn't speak for the thousands of others at JBLM. It's just one guy's opinion, but he believes it's one that others share.
He believes the initial invasion made sense, but the mission now doesn't make sense.
"Maybe when we were all pissed off and lost our minds [after 9/11], OK we got back at them," he said. "Osama bin Laden's dead. Saddam Hussein's dead. We're not making it any better for the people we're supposedly over there to help."
But all that being said, this soldier isn't sure about this protest at JBLM. He doesn't think pushing people to go AWOL or the conscientious objector route is a good idea.
"If you're this late in the game and you're getting ready to go, you're going," he said. "Unfortunately, a lot of those guys are going to die. Is it stupid? Yes. Is it a worthless waste of life? Yes. But you gotta go."
But you don't have to be happy about it he said. "It's never going to be over," he said. "I think we should bring everyone home, honestly. I get that we want to win, but at the same time some fights you just can't win."
But is that true? Can the U.S. win this war? CBS military analyst and former Army Major Mike Lyons said that's a really hard question to answer because no one has really defined what "winning" in Afghanistan means.
He said it looks like the end goal is get the country to a place where it can stand up on its own and be a part of the global community. But is that winning? Hard to say.
One thing Lyon knows for sure is that the U.S doesn't appear to be making significant progress, despite what you might hear from the Pentagon or the White House.
"We're maintaining the status quo," he said. "The question comes back to what happens when we leave. If Afghanistan reverts back into the hands of the Taliban let's say two years after we leave then we've done Vietnam all over again."
The U.S. is planing to leave Afghanistan in 2014. But some analysts believe a full withdrawal will not happpen for years.
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