by Hardy Stone
(SDVOSB News Services, 2/14/2013) – It’s often said veterans are owed a debt because they freely took a dangerous pledge – that by joining the service – maybe, just maybe, they would be asked to put their lives on the line. Eleven Bravo types don’t even hesitate at the promise of challenging themselves and protecting other members of their squad.
The greatest and gravest danger for politicians – in any era of history – is to order men and women to stand in the line of fire and risk their lives for the greater good. The good of their country, squad or anything worth protecting, it’s flat out the worst imaginable order one can thrust on soldiers. That they may lose their life is a tough pill to swallow and one that is very hard to choke down if the ordering is done by someone hasn’t borne the battle.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell understood the price of war and that it was the final option between nations. No matter how bellicose or how much a politician may say about it, he will never view battle as the horror that it truly is; he can never smell the blood of his troops on his hands, he never will understand what killing is like to the eighteen-year-old or to the thirty-five year-old.
Donald Rumsfeld didn’t know. GW Bush did not have a clue, and Barrack Obama and Panetta cannot feel the anxiety, the fear, the heartbreak, the end; the end.
I’ll bet Chuck Hagel can smell the oily smoke and the silent fear and the desperate relief of knowing that the soldiers are alive. The endless headcounts he took as a squad leader in Vietnam armed him with an understanding. An understanding that war is hell to give an order to risk it all is more pressure than any man should have to bear.
In addition to the CIB, Sergeant Hagel was awarded two purple hearts, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, the Army Commendation Medal. He resigned in 1982 as Deputy Administrator for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Secretary Nimmo wanted to cut vital veterans programs—Robert Nimmo once compared the effects of Agent Orange to ‘teenage acne.’
Though Colonel Nimmo did serve in the Army Air Corps during WW I and II, he never experienced the human suffering as Chuck Hagel did in Vietnam.
Republican Senators, let Hagel head DoD, he is the only man for the job, a man who knows that deadly decisions should not be left in the cold hands of the untested.