Limb from limb

What awaits GIs in Afghanistan

March 13, 2011
By Ryan Endicott

The author is a former Marine corps infantryman who served in Iraq and is a member of March Forward!

The war in Afghanistan, now approaching its second decade, is more horrific than ever for U.S. troops.

New data revealed in the March 4 Washington Post showed a massive increase in injured soldiers—the “signature wound" being the loss of both legs from the knee or higher-up. 

In addition to having both legs blown off, soldiers are suffering severe injuries to the genitals and pelvic region. The report further states, "Twice as many U.S. soldiers wounded in battle last year required limb amputations than either of the two previous years." As a result, three times as many soldiers lost more than one limb and nearly three times as many suffered severe injuries to their genitals.

The percentage of soldiers losing one limb increased by 60 percent, and those suffering injuries to their genitals increased by 90 percent.

It was also reported that many of the soldiers who wake up in the hospital in Germany are so medicated and confused from their injuries that they "discover" their loss more than once during their stay, adding to the severe psychological trauma associated with the wounds.

New slang: double amp, trip amp

These wounds have become so common that there is new military slang used to refer to fellow GIs after they’re wounded: “double amps” and “trip amps,” referring to the number of limbs lost. The already bloody war in Afghanistan has grown far more gruesome in the past year.

So many troops are enduring these wounds because of the missions they are sent on. A deployment in Afghanistan means daily patrols through villages and farmland where the local population hates the foreign occupation. Most of the time, the mission is to do nothing more than walk around and wait to be blown up by a bomb in their path.

Those troops are told that their mission—constantly occupying and patrolling these areas—is of vital importance; they are risking life and limb for the Pentagon’s master plan to “win” in Afghanistan. Or, maybe not. Areas that troops are told are a top priority are later abandoned by the Pentagon after heavy losses.

Most recently, the Pentagon ordered a retreat from the Pech Valley. Soldiers there were told that it was a top priority to control the valley. They did daily patrols, as ordered. Over 100 were killed. Hundreds more were horribly wounded. Then, Petraeus and his team of generals said, “Well, maybe this place isn’t that important.”

Those who lost friends and limbs there will have to wonder for the rest of their lives why they fought endlessly in that valley, why their lives will never be the same.

The same is true for those who served in other areas that the occupation forces have retreated from—Korengal Valley, Wanat, Nuristan Province, and many others.

They were ordered to occupy regions where the fight was hopeless—where the people would refuse foreign domination, and would fight back until the foreign troops left.

This is the situation in the entire country. Like in the Pech and Korengal Valleys, the United States cannot win in Afghanistan. But the generals will send young GIs in wave after wave, simply because they do not know what else to do.

Vietnam War resistance

During the Vietnam War, U.S. troops started seeing the futility of their missions: the constant, pointless patrols; fighting to win “key terrain,” then abandoning it once scores had died.

When they realized the absurdity of the mission, entire units refused orders to go on patrols and conduct combat operations, refusing to die and be maimed for a failed strategy in an imperialist war.

With casualties at the highest level yet, for both troops and civilians, in a war that cannot be won, it is time to follow the example of those heroic troops who refused their orders in Vietnam.


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