I was struck by a sense of sadness while reading the article "Afghan Strategy Needs Big Boost, General Says" (July 11) on the war in Afghanistan. I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966 for three years and volunteered to serve in the Republic of South Vietnam (February 1967 to March 1968) for a 13-month tour. I bought what our president was selling, "the red menace, those commies were coming," and I had to keep Squirrel Hill safe from dominos (that's esoteric speak for the Domino Theory, not the pizza).
Now we are 40 years later, and nothing has changed; our military, at the behest of our presidents have invaded new countries (Iraq and Afghanistan), for new reasons: imaginary weapons of mass distraction (oops, I mean destruction) in Iraq, and in Afghanistan we have our choice: the Taliban, al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden.
The July 11 article goes on to say that the new top U.S. commander in Afghanistan believes that for us to "win the war" our country has to deploy thousands of more troops to serve as advisers and trainers of the Afghan security forces. To me, this sounds just like Vietnam: We have to "win the war" no matter what the costs were, or now are. I find it ironic that the only people who find it easy to send our soldiers to possibly die, get wounded or traumatized, are those who never served in combat; such as our prior and current presidents.
I know our soldiers want to be there, and I respect them for that, but I do not believe they need to be. We do not need another 50,000 dead soldiers, or hundreds of thousands wounded, as in Vietnam. But by the time our military is done in both countries, it could happen.
We need to bring them home. We need to take care of the United States, its elderly, its poor and its children. Surely the past eight years in the Mideast have shown us a situation that is untenable. To win, even if possible, is too costly for those paying the price: the soldiers and innocent civilians.