It’s been more than a month since I put my application in to the United States Forces–Iraq to embed with a New Hampshire reserve unit near Baghdad, and I’m still waiting. I’m still hoping.
It’s a weird feeling, to be hoping to see war. I’m not someone who is wrapped up in the romanticized vision of war reporting, but I do see a value in having people there. In this contentious political climate, with candidates vying for votes based on their positions on the Afghanistan War, it’s worth remembering there are New Hampshire soldiers in Iraq, our new “forgotten war.”
How quickly the perspective shifts. Several years ago Afghanistan was ignored, and Iraq was melting. Now it’s flipped, with fewer than 50,000 troops in Iraq and mounting casualties in Afghanistan. How do you focus a nation’s attention on a war with multiple fronts? Ask Truman, I guess.
I want to go there. I want to catch people up on what it means to be a soldier, what it means to still have troops there, even if it’s “only 50,000.” They do not deserve to be forgotten, even if the other war is more pressing.
If I get the go-ahead I’ll have to push the dates back. I had planned on going in November, but then things got hectic. Now I’m looking for somewhere in January.
Why? Because I need $2,000 in body armor, plus shatterproof goggles, Nomex gloves and a helmet. That’s a big portion of my annual income, but as I told my wife, “Don’t worry, I’ll be able to use it to go to Afghanistan.” That didn’t go over well.
I’m still waiting, but I’m no longer on the edge of my seat. I imagine I’ll hear sometime soon, at which point I can toss a bunch of money out the window and get on a plane. Who knows, I just might like it. But most importantly, whether you like it or not, you’ll hear about what is going on there. That’s the most important thing, lest we forget.