01/27/06 — Accomplishments: General’s observations counteract political platitudes

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Accomplishments: General’s observations counteract political platitudes

Gen. Duncan McNabb, the commander of the Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, wants you to know that the men and women who are serving in the U.S. Air Force understand the weight of the responsibility that has been placed on their shoulders.

They are honored, he told those gathered at the Base Community Council meeting Thursday, to serve their country and to protect its citizens’ freedoms.

The four-star general made a short visit to the area this week in part to see his son-in-law graduate from fighter pilot training, and also to check in with the airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the officers who guide them.

Listening to him talk about the war on terror and the military’s work in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is hard to believe that anyone would doubt the top officers’ commitment to the work that is being done in the Middle East.

And hearing the stories he told about the men and women who are serving, it is hard to be anything but proud about these young people who are committed to not only protecting their nation, but helping to safeguard the freedoms of strangers halfway around the world.

And then there were the heroes he said he visited with in the military hospitals around the country. Injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, most did not express hatred, bitterness or complaint. They worried instead about their units and told stories about the kindness of the Iraqi or Afghan men, women and children they had met.

All wanted to be back with their units to help finish the job, the general said.

Gen. McNabb’s remarks should remind us all that there is another side to the Iraq war debate. We should remember that anyone with a microphone, an unnamed source and a well-chosen interviewee can paint any picture about the success or failure of our mission overseas. And while there might be reason to look back critically at some of the decisions that were made before it started, there is no doubt that there is plenty of success to measure now.

And there are plenty of servicemen and women in all branches of the military of whom we should all be very proud.

As political season nears, there will be more and more debate about Iraq and the Middle East. Our goal should be to take it all with the discretion that is necessary to look at the big picture and to hear the whole story.

Gen. McNabb and those who serve with him know that the work they are doing is important, and that there has already been much accomplished.

Perhaps more of us need to listen to people like him, and less to politicians with nothing more than political aspirations in mind.

Published in Editorials on January 27, 2006 9:48 AM