08/23/10 — Next round: No time for celebrating Iraq when SJAFB's own are headed to Bagram

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Next round: No time for celebrating Iraq when SJAFB's own are headed to Bagram

There has been more than a little talk over the past week as the last of U.S. combat troops made their way back home -- and more than a little back-patting by politicians as well.

And while that is good news and a sign that perhaps it was not such a bad idea to commit fully to putting an end to the war swiftly and decisively with a troop surge, that does not mean anyone in Washington should be relaxing.

That's because Sunday morning, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base sent several hundred of its own back for a six-month tour in Afghanistan.

And we are not alone, either.

There are still thousands of American service members in danger in that part of the Middle East. And we need to take their safety and their efforts as seriously as we did those of the brave men and women who brought home victory in Iraq.

So, if we are going to be in a battle in Afghanistan, we have to be all-in. That means we need a battle plan that offers the resources and the orders for engagement that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines need to stomp out the insurgents who are terrorizing their countrymen and doing damage to ground troops.

We have to be tough. We have to be steadfast. And we have to have the guts to do what needs to be done to be able to hoist that "Mission Accomplished" banner.

The Middle East is by no means settled -- and there are still major concerns about what will happen next, not only in Afghanistan, but in Iraq and in Pakistan as well.

Now is the time for serious contemplation and a plan that is focused not just on bringing troops home, but also making sure they do not have to go back a year from now.

And that likely means American leaders will have to keep their eyes on not just the progress of the battle plan in Afghanistan, but also the continued development of a new nation in Iraq.

Seymour Johnson's Rocketeers are being called back, in part, because they are that good.

We, and they, should be proud of the contributions they have made and the lives they have saved.

But we will do them a disservice -- as well as the families they have left behind -- if we do not approach this next step of the process in the Middle East with commitment, gusto and determination that our troops will have the resources and support they need to get the job done and to come home.

It is our job as a community -- and as citizens -- to make sure our leaders in Washington never forget that part of the mission.

Published in Editorials on August 23, 2010 11:04 AM