This is an awesome column from John Carlson of the DesMoines Register. Thanks to Larry at Gathering Of Eagles, Texas for pointing it out.
JOHN CARLSON'S IOWA
May 23, 2007
A tired and disgusted Iowa soldier fired off an e-mail a few days ago, telling family and friends how things are going in Iraq.
A Blackhawk helicopter pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Jim Funk has flown more than 80 combat missions since he arrived there in October.
He described his Boone-based unit's successes after 5,000 hours of flying out of LSA Anaconda, a huge American base north of Baghdad. He talked about the tragedies he and his fellow Iowans have witnessed and his worries of becoming complacent as he goes on mission after mission.
"We're treading water," the Ames man told the people closest to him. "We continue to kick butt on missions and take care of each other, even though we know the American public and government DOES NOT stand behind us.
Ohhhh, they all say they support us, but how can you support me (the soldier) if you don't support my mission or my objectives. We watch the news over here. Every time we turn it on we see the American public and Hollywood conducting protests and rallies against our 'illegal occupation' of Iraq."
His greatest frustration? The performance of the people who deliver the news to the American people.
I'll let him say it, in his own words, in the letter, which found its way to me:
"Hello media, do you know you indirectly kill American soldiers every day? You inspire and report the enemy's objective every day. You are the enemy's greatest weapon. The enemy cannot beat us on the battlefield so all he does is try to wreak enough havoc and have you report it every day. With you and the enemy using each other, you continually break the will of the American public and American government.
"We go out daily and bust and kill the enemy, uncover and destroy huge weapons caches and continue to establish infrastructure. So daily we put a whoopin on the enemy, but all the enemy has to do is turn on the TV and get re-inspired. He gets to see his daily roadside bomb, truck bomb, suicide bomber or mortar attack. He doesn't see any accomplishments of the U.S. military (FOX, you're not exempt, you suck also).
"Let's give you an example. A couple of days ago we conducted an air assault. We lifted troops into an area for an operation. The operation went well and our ground troops killed (insurgents) and took several prisoners, freed a few hostages and uncovered a weapons cache containing munitions and chemicals that were going to be used in improvised bombs.
"The next morning I woke up and turned on AFN (Armed Forces Network) and watched the nightly news (NBC). Nothing, none of that reported. But the daily car bomb report was reported, and the file footage was not even from the event. There was a car bomb in the Sadr City area and your news report showed old car bomb footage from another part of town from some other time.
"So we really set the enemy back that night but all the enemy had to do was turn on the news and be reassured that the enemy's agenda (objective) was still going to be fed to the American public.
"We, the soldiers, keep breaking the back of the enemy. You, the media, keep rejuvenating the enemy.
"How hard would it be to contact the PAO (public affairs officer) of the 1st CAV, 36th CAB, 25th ID or the Marines and ask what did you guys accomplish today - good and bad? How about some insurgent blooper videos? Now that would be something to show on the evening news.
"Media, we know you hate the George Bush administration, but report both sides, not just your one-sided agenda. You have got to realize how you are continually motivating every extremist, jihadist and terrorist to continue their resolve to kill American soldiers."
It's a punch in the nose to the news media from Funk, 39, a full-time employee of the Iowa National Guard.
Why did he write it?
"I am just tired of busting my butt over here and coming home every night and turning on the TV (Armed Forces Network) and hearing how we are failing miserably," he told me in an e-mail.
You may agree with what Funk has to say. You may not.
Many in my business certainly won't. But Funk is a soldier, fighting a war, who has earned the right to be heard.
Columnist John Carlson can be reached at (515) 284-8204 or firstname.lastname@example.org