http://www.southernillinoisan.com/articles/2007/01/31/opinions/guest_columns/18990233.txt (IMHO A good article.) The great debate: A soldier's view By Grayson Gile We are engaged in the first serious debate of the 21st century. Ostensibly, the most visible debate is over the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nevertheless, after all the partisan and ideological posturing is discarded, the most important question for the American people and our elected public servants is this: How does the government of the United States best ensure our safety and security - not only for the present - but for the long term? As a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I can state without hesitation that our involvement in there is the right thing to do. I have not been to Iraq; therefore, I will not argue whether our decision to go to war in Iraq was right or wrong. However, I do know this: We have crossed the Rubicon. To conclude these wars short of victory undermines our long term security interests by legitimizing the enemy's use of terror as an effective instrument of political action. The nature of the conflict in Iraq has changed. Consequently, the right tool for the job must be selected. In the spring of 2003, U.S. conventional forces superbly accomplished what they are designed to do. They closed with and destroyed the Iraqi army in a conventional force on force, or symmetrical, conflict. To be precise, the conventional war in Iraq has already been won. Today, the primary threat in Afghanistan and Iraq are terror organizations and militias that possess a myriad of diverse, and frequently competing, political, economic and theological objectives. Therefore, the threats in each country are, by definition, asymmetrical and political. Special forces are best positioned to take the lead dealing with the asymmetrical insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is precisely what they are designed to do. Experts in assisting host governments with internal defense and development, infrastructure development through civil affairs, humanitarian assistance programs, and counter-terrorism operations, special forces can be viewed as Peace Corps with a gun. Special forces represent the key to enabling the Afghan and Iraqi governments to assume responsibility for their own security needs - and their own destinies. Special forces are, first and foremost, teachers and advisers. The special forces soldier possesses language proficiency, cultural sensitivity, and a broad array of skills that are of nation-building value. Experts in medical care, communications, engineering, problem solving and the "human dimension" of diplomacy, the average special forces soldier is 10 to 20 years senior to the average conventional combat arms Infantryman. There is one caveat, however: special forces are not, and cannot, be mass produced. Stabilization of Afghanistan and Iraq will require both special operations and conventional forces working together in a symbiotic, and fully synchronized, combined team effort. In accord with the Special Forces motto "De Oppresso Liber" or "Liberate the Oppressed", our greatest, and most valuable, exports are freedom, hope, and the ideals of our liberal-democratic tradition. Ultimately, true soldiers war not against flesh and blood - but the true enemies of mankind: hate, intolerance, ignorance, greed, corruption, poverty, and political and theocratic tyranny in all forms. Unfortunately, the task of combating the "true enemies" of mankind sometimes entails the taking of life; however, as any true soldier can tell you, there is no satisfaction having to remove these obstacles to progress. It is just something that has to be done in order to help create a better and safer world. As soldiers, we are willing to pay the price. The question before the American people and our elected public servants is this: Are you? Grayson Gile is an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel assigned as a current operations officer with Special Operations Command-South and served in Afghanistan during 2005. He also is Pulaski County State's Attorney.