Vets head to Ft. Lewis: "You don't have to go to Afghanistan"
A deployment to stop a deployment
Two veterans’ and service members’ organizations, March Forward! and Veterans For Peace, are partnering to bring the message of the Our Lives Our Rights campaign to thousands of U.S. service members throughout the military.
In late October, early November, Fort Lewis’s 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will deploy to Afghanistan.
Between Oct. 7- 14, the Our Lives Our Rights campaign will deploy a team of Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam veterans, soldiers from 4th Brigade and military families to engage in an outreach and visibility campaign to Fort Lewis soldiers with a simple message: “You don’t have to go to Afghanistan.”
Soldiers will receive information about how they can:
- Become Conscientious Objectors and exempt themselves from deployment on moral grounds
- Demand better treatment and non-deployment status for PTSD
- Learn their legal rights if they feel they must go AWOL or seek asylum in another country
- Learn from other service members who have successfully resisted deployment
The Our Lives Our Rights deployment will coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan war. Bold action is necessary at such a milestone.
Why we should not go to Afghanistan
Recent major stories out of Afghanistan have exposed that the pillars of the Pentagon’s strategy aimed at any kind of “withdrawal”—training Afghan forces to replace us, using the now-ended “surge” to break the momentum of the resistance, and luring the Taliban into a peace deal—is a total failure.
The politicians and the generals know their military objectives and goals are up in smoke but they don’t want to shoulder the responsibility for a perceived “military defeat” on their watch.
We are dying—and killing Afghans—only so privileged and protected politicians and generals can keep pretending in the media that “all is going according to plan.” We are literally dying so they can avoid being embarrassed.
Instead of withdrawing now and accepting responsibility for the doomed Afghanistan adventure they prefer a “slow motion defeat” over the next few years. But this multi-year withdrawal means more U.S. soldiers and marines will die or suffer life-changing wounds for nothing. What a waste of human life and money.
Army LTC Daniel Davis, a commander who travelled 9,000 miles through eight provinces in Afghanistan, wrote in his assessment of the war: “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?”
The Afghan people were never really involved in the 9/11 attacks—in fact, 92 percent of Afghan men have never even heard of it. The Afghan people are not our enemies. Like in Iraq, Afghanistan was viewed by the politicians as a new base of U.S. economic interests in a geostrategic, resource-rich region. But like in Iraq, that proved to be a fantasy, because the people in the region refuse to live under foreign occupation (just like any of us would).
Our elected officials are literally throwing our lives away—that will only change if we exercise our rights.
We do have a way out
Service members have a variety of options available to them that exempts them from deployment to Afghanistan.
Most service members do not know these rights. For those who do, the chain of command actively blocks service members from exercising them.
Our Lives Our Rights seeks to turn that situation around. On this deployment to Fort Lewis, we will reach out to service members to ensure that they know their rights and options. We will assist those who need information about their rights and legal support, and help in successfully navigating the maze of paperwork. We will give a voice to those who want to take a stand and tell their stories to build a movement for the rights of their sisters and brothers in uniform.
Our deployment to Fort Lewis to reach out to our brothers and sisters in uniform before their impending deployment is just the first of many. We plan to deploy veteran outreach teams to military bases around the country.
Alone, we are powerless against the will of the politicians and generals. However, when service members and veterans unite and organize together for our rights, we can challenge their callous disregard for our lives.