Sitting in the Kuwaiti desert in March 2003, I didn’t know much. But as a member of the 1st Marine Division, I had been told in no uncertain terms: “You will be attacked with chemical weapons before you reach Baghdad.” As an infantry platoon commander, I knew that my unit would be one of the first to get hit. So, I was anxious for our chemical suits to arrive.
They came in a few days before the invasion. When we put the suits on, we were swimming in sweat. They were hot, they were heavy, they smelled awful. And they were green.
The Pentagon was so unprepared for the invasion that they sent an entire division gear that was meant for woodland fighting, which made us easy targets in the endless expanse of light brown sand. Thinking about the next country on the Bush-Cheney “Axis of Evil,” we joked that the government was saving our desert gear for Korea.
The next year, we had to weld sheet metal onto the sides of our Humvees because Congress and the Department of Defense couldn’t send us the armor we needed, and people were getting killed as a result. That’s when we stopped joking.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney didn’t just send us the wrong gear. They sent us to the wrong country. They sent us to the wrong war. Now, with the situation in Iraq rapidly deteriorating, and veterans like myself watching as hard-fought gains — paid for with American lives — fall into the hands of terrorists, Dick Cheney has a message for us: It’s all Obama’s fault.
Cheney, like many in Washington, hasn’t spent a day in combat. He hasn’t been shot at by insurgents. He hasn’t seen men and women killed due to poor decision-making in his White House or in his Congress. Worse, he lied about intelligence to justify sending troops to Iraq in the first place.