For those of you who forgot, we are still at war in Afghanistan. Now in its 6th year 443 brave Americans have lost their lives in this war according to the latest AP figures.
Lately U.S. Marines have been fighting an upsurge in violence from the Taliban. They entered the Helmand province for the first time in years. Now the Marines aren’t alone in their fight, they’re joined by the ISA. 53,000 troops from different countries make up the ISAF or International Security Assistance Force which is in charge of Afghanistan. The ISAF has 1/3 the number of foreign troops in Iraq, yet Afghanistan is 50 percent larger and has 4 million more people.
Just to give you an idea of what these men and women have to go through. Some of these Marines are in the 4th week of what was supposed to be a 3 to 5 day campaign. These men are living off the land with no running water or no electricity as they fight Taliban soldiers who are reinforced and replaced as they cross over from Pakistan.
These are the same soldiers who when they come home are at times denied medical treatment. Soldiers who give everything to their country and get very little in return.
It’s not just American soldiers who are short changed. Recently UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been under fire from his own Generals. In an article from the London Times General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army compared the payment of his soldiers to traffic police in London.
It turns out that the traffic police or police constables have a starting salary of £21,009. Which at the current exchange rate comes out to $10,500 a year. The average soldier makes £16,227 which comes out to about $8,000 a year. Now considering the job, you have to realize that these brave soldiers are underpaid.
Do you really think someone who is handing out tickets in London should get paid more than someone who is fighting Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan for this 30th day in a row without running water and electricity? Now I know the police constables probably do a heck of a job, but lets be realistic.
Gordon Brown replied “We will do everything in our power in the years to come to recognize the great individual contribution that is made by all the members of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.”
Now American troops in Afghanistan have been ignored as much as British troops. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have nothing in their websites about Afghanistan. I believe it truly has been forgotten, for all of the talk he does about Iraq he is eerily silent about Afghanistan and NATO. I do commend Barack Obama for saying that he will withdraw troops from Iraq and place some of those troops in Afghanistan in order to relieve the soldiers who have fought much longer than they were expecting to.
Today I just ask you that when you hear people arguing about Iraq and what to do, just say “Hey what about Afghanistan?” Don’t forget the brave soldiers there, don’t forget their sacrifice, don’t’ forget the war.
Chris Puntarelli, reporting for St. John’s College Democrats.