By Jesse Carr
At one point Camp Leatherneck was home to some 40,000 coalition military personnel. Now it is nothing more than a ghost town. Littered with concrete barriers, razor wire, abandoned barracks, and empty offices, the 6,500 acres that Camp Leatherneck boasts resemble little of its previous glory. On October 26, 2014, U.S. Marines and British combat troops lowered the flags and prepared to return home, handing over control of the base to the Afghan National Army's 215th Corps. The return of our Marines marks the end of a 13 year war, the longest in American history.
Fox News reported that there have been at least 2,207 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001. For many Americans, Operation Enduring Freedom has had little effect on them. With the current state of Iraq and the threat of ISIS, should we be confident that the 2,207 deaths, and approximately 3,400 casualties were worth it?
The withdrawal of military personnel from Iraq, and the rise of ISIS has proven that there isn't just a lack of motivation of the Iraqis to defend themselves, it has shown that it is nearly nonexistent. And while we have been battling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for 13 years, we have seen a similar approach from the Afghans.
As a Marine, I am proud of the sacrifices that my brothers and sisters have made in defense of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as a Marine I must ask the question: Why would we fight for someone who won't fight for himself? I joined the Marine Corps to serve my country and to do that through protecting the weak and defending the innocent. What is the point in defending someone who doesn't even believe in the cause we are fighting for? My heart is at peace knowing that my fellow Marines are returning home. Yet in the wake of their return looms a dark and ominous cloud with the threat of ISIS. While many are predicting that the only long term solution to ISIS is boots on the ground, I struggle with knowing what the right answer is. Are we responsible for the rise of ISIS? I don't believe so. Do we have a moral obligation to defend those who can't defend themselves? I think we do. However, I enlisted to serve my country, and protect and defend the citizens of these United States, which leads me to my next question. Are Iraq and Afghanistan that much of a threat to the American people?
I still have four years left on my reserve contract, and as an infantry rifleman I know if we deploy back to Iraq there is a chance that I will be there, right in the middle of it. Keeping that in mind, my approach to how we should handle ISIS is not eager, nor is it hesitant. I believe we will be called back to Iraq, and I feel that 'boots on the ground' is the only way that we will eradicate the threat of ISIS. I don't know if it makes sense sacrificing American lives in defense of the Iraqi people. However, I do feel that as a Marine I took an oath, and have a responsibility to do what others can't, even if that means making sacrifices for someone that I don't know.