As we gear up for Veterans Day, it’s a good time to think about the next waves of men and women we send into harm’s way.
About a week back, I asked Jay Garner, a retired Army three-star general, about his take on the commandos headed to Syria.
Garner is one of my go-to guys for that region and for good reason. A former Army assistant vice chief of staff, Garner first got to know the Kurds during his stint as commanding general, Joint Task Force Bravo during Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq after Desert Storm.
After retiring in 1997, he went back to Iraq in 2003 to serve as director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, Iraq, a short-lived stint where he pushed for a multi-party government of Kurds, Sunnis and Shia.
And now, as a private citizen with business interests in Erbil, he travels frequently from his home near Orlando to the Kurdish region of Iraq, where he regularly meets with Kurdish political and military leaders.
Garner is no fan of the concept of sending commandos, most likely Green Berets, into Syria to train the Syrian Kurds and Arabs in their fight against the Sunni insurgent group calling itself Islamic State.
It’s nothing against the Green Berets, whose work with the Iraqi Kurds he lauds. Nor is it a knock on the Syrian Kurds and Arabs.
It’s the incrementalism that grates on Garner.
“I think in time of war, anything you do incrementally is going to fail,” Garner says. “If you are going to use force, use force. Taking an incremental approach in a time of war just doesn’t work.”
But that said, Garner is not calling for a big presence of U.S. forces in Syria to take on Islamic State, either.
“I am not really for putting troops on ground in Syria,” he says.
. . . Continued.