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I read this opinion piece that appeared in the Air Force Times. It’s written by Jeff Slocum, an Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. I’m adding it top this blog since it deals with the war in Iraq and Daniel and his callers talk about the war every Saturday.

How do I serve the military and my nation with integrity as both an active-duty airman and an American citizen? Are they mutually exclusive endeavors? I don’t think so.

My moral and ethical conscience and obligations are guiding me in speaking out. They are also guiding me in faithfully and proudly serving my country and my Air Force. I’m proud of my service and fully support the Air Force mission. I’m also a big proponent of “Let’s wrap it up in Iraq — as in, ‘the sooner, the better.’”

That’s why I support the Appeal for Redress, which calls on Congress to bring a prompt ending to the war in Iraq. Some people surely think I’ve lost my mind. But here’s where I’m coming from: I’ve never believed that the conventional military admonition to “do as we say or get out of the way” is always the answer. That line of thinking can get us into a big jam and keep us floundering around in a mess, like Iraq.

Appealing to Congress for withdrawal from Iraq doesn’t mean I don’t believe in our mission as an Air Force to support the war. As a total military team of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, we have a huge responsibility to each other in a variety of missions. I’m deeply committed and dedicated to our Air Force and our people. That’s why I’m speaking out while on active duty and not running for cover into retirement.

I’m also troubled by the generic “support the troops” mantra. It often seems like a cheerleading campaign that does nothing to actually support them, such as making sure those who get the crap knocked out of them over there are truly well cared for. And the ultimate support is to get them home and out of harm’s way as soon as possible. For the sake of their families, we should move even more quickly to get out of Iraq.

The human costs of the Iraq conflict continue to mount to a staggering level of tragedy and grief. I cannot quietly watch as things drag on and deteriorate indefinitely, and more people die or are maimed for life. We need more than car magnets or dutiful silence.

Those service members who have signed the Appeal for Redress (http://www.appealforredress.org) have struggled with a serious and troubling patriotic dilemma. These people have been to Iraq multiple times. They know the real deal. They are compelled by their moral and ethical convictions to exercise their rights as service members and American citizens.

Yet, ironically, those who are active participants in the defense of our democracy may also find themselves taking friendly fire from those who don’t know the truth and have misinterpreted this noble act of patriotism.

— Jeff Slocum

The writer is an Air Force chief master sergeant with 21 years on active duty. He’s served in Texas, Arizona, Montana, Florida, Korea, Europe, Southwest Asia and Honduras, and is stationed in Fayetteville, N.C.

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Rich in Valrico called in on 2/10/07 .

His call centered around this question – What would happen if everyone in the military, who disagreed with the war in Iraq, just refused and said I’m not going, they can’t arrest everybody. That’s true, but it wouldn’t be a military either. Daniel’s thought was that it would be a recipe for disaster since the military is all about order and discipline and that would cease to exist when you have the option to opt-out. This would cause anarchy and would not be a healthy thing for the military.

That’s an interesting thought Rich but in reality, it probably wouldn’t have the impact you might think. As an active duty member, I can tell you that although I’m not happy with the way this war has gone or the circumstances leading up to it, there is no way I would sacrifice my 18-year career or abandon my fellow Airmen just for my personal beliefs. You see, I voluntarily joined and agreed to do certain things and one of them is to obey the orders of the President of the United States. The actual oath of enlistment is:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Believe me, I disagree with many of the policies of President Bush and this whole Iraq mess, however, I did go to Iraq when I was ordered to. If I want the option to refuse to go to war, I need to find another career because this is the whole purpose of a military. To fight and win, not to elect to fight, when I want to.

Here’s an easy way to understand what it means to be a military member. Ask anyone in the military and ask them what they do. Don’t ask what their particular job is, just ask what they do or who they work for. Almost everyone will say something like “I’m in the military”. Not, I work for the Department of Defense, I work for Uncle Sam, or I work for the government. They are in the military. And it’s not for the money either. Military members don’t get paid very well considering what they have to do and the fact they’re on duty 24/7. Now switch that around and ask a non-military person what they do. Are they in IBM? Are they in Wal-Mart? Are they in McDonalds? No, they just work for those companies.

There’s the difference. Military members are “IN” the military. It’s more than just a job for most of us.

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