Mission Creep

Believe it or not Mission Creep has its own entry in Wikipedia. If after reading it, you’re unsure what it means, just watch what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The President firmly declared that our combat mission is both countries ended this year. Now watch as (by executive order) he expands the numbers and levels of combatants and actions in both countries. No, the Republicans won’t call him on it because they support this mission creep.

A related term is “ratchet effect,” where a system resists reducing its scope once it expands. There’s also the Tar Baby effect, where any “sticky situation” is only aggravated by additional contact.

Another related term is “ops tempo” (believe it or not, no entry in Wikipedia). Where the soldiers (and their families) who were worn and stressed out by the former high level of action in Iraq and Afghanistan are the very ones on whose back the mission creep creeps.

While the impact of Mission Creep and Ops Tempo ripple through our defense community–equipment wearing out, expendables consumed, budgets bursting–the biggest damage is done to the men and women put in harm’s way–combat fatigue, PTSD, broken families, lower retention, higher suicide rates, high drug abuse, etc.

Less than one percent of the American population have been in combat since 9/11. The rest of us, even the veterans among us, can’t imagine what this country is putting these people through. Instead, we treat them like disposal diapers we insist on reusing, and then complain because they are soiled.

It’s not fair, folks. If these aren’t your sons and daughters, they are the children of someone you know. It all sounds so neat and heroic when it’s on the evening news or some politician’s speech (a politician who is unlikely to have served), but the reality is that we owe our people better.

Do you know someone who has served? Have you thanked her or him recently? Not just re-send an email or posting on Veteran’s Day, but expressed it directly to them? Maybe put their picture on your refrigerator door with the art work they sent you just a few years earlier? Maybe pray for them?

Then, when some new adventure blossoms, remember that real human beings have to pay the butcher’s bill run up by the politicians’ mouths.