Word Play In The War Zone

by Chris Bodenner

Retired Army Col. Andrew Berdy vents over at Tom Ricks' place:

Can you explain to me how, or why, the myth of "all combat troops out of Iraq" is allowed to be perpetuated by the press, much less our senior military leadership? Yes, the mission has changed. But units like my son's Stryker Brigade (not the one that just left!) are, and always will be, combat infantry units.

This is fiction pure and simple. I just don't get how the nation has swallowed this and why members of the media are not reporting facts the way they are rather than the political PR message the Administration wants portrayed. Does anyone not think that the likelihood of continued combat operations is a reality? When casualties are taken by these "non-combat forces" will those casualties be characterized as "non-combat" as well?

I'm reminded of an anecdote told by another retired Army colonel - my father. As a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam, sitting on his fire base in the spring of '72, he recalls reading in The Stars & Stripes a quote from Nixon boasting, "All combat divisions are out of Vietnam."  He laughed to himself, thinking, "You gotta be shittin' me!  I just saw combat."  While Nixon may have been technically correct - my dad was part of a brigade separated from the 1st Cavalry Division - the impression given that all combat troops were out of Vietnam was, well, laughable.  (In fact, there were about 70,000 Americans still there.)