Monday, August 01, 2005

Guardsman felt ‘forgotten’ in Afghanistan |

Guardsman felt ‘forgotten’ in Afghanistan |

"After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the United States launched its war on terrorism by sending aircraft and troops to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Nearly four years later, the United States has about 20,000 troops still in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, the U.S. has more than 100,000 troops. The violence and the fighting in Iraq has been more intense and casualties — among American soldiers and Iraqi civilians — have been much higher than in Afghanistan.

While Iraq and the military forces serving there certainly deserve the attention, Fearing said he thinks some of the things going on in Afghanistan also are deserving of attention but not always getting it.

“We were doing a lot of good things over there,” Fearing said of his tour in Afghanistan. “The problem came up that the only time it seemed we were getting any kind of press coverage was when there was something catastrophic, like when a helicopter crashes.”

Fearing was referring to an incident a few weeks ago when a helicopter carrying Navy SEALs crashed while on its way to help another SEAL team that was under attack.

“For those who don’t personally know someone who has been in Afghanistan, I think the war is a little bit forgotten,” Fearing said. “We felt supported, but sometimes because of the attention on Iraq, we felt forgotten.”

Though most of the media attention has been on Iraq, there are plenty of reporters going to Afghanistan, Fearing said.


Fearing said he wasn’t sure whether Afghans thought they were getting less U.S. attention because of Iraq. But he recalled conversations with Afghans through interpreters who said they were appreciative of American help and that they were glad Americans were not trying to force the American way of life or religions on them.

Larry McElwain said his son, who recently spent a week on leave with his family before returning to Afghanistan, is positive about the war effort.

The Journal-World contacted Davis McElwain by e-mail and submitted several questions to him. Davis McElwain, who is assigned to a communications unit attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, was unable to immediately answer the questions, but he did send the following e-mail message:

“Morale is very good and that stems from our mission here, which is twofold: helping to rebuild Afghanistan, and improve the security for the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan people that I have met here appreciate our presence here and we are working alongside them to improve their country.”"

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