Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria has caused a lot of controversy. Americans are divided on the subject, and there’s been a lot of back and forth. However, there’s one group that, for a variety of reasons, hasn’t been heard from: veterans of the Syria campaign against ISIS. Well, this is what they have to say. NOTE: I’ve made slight edits for readability. No point in diminishing what they’re trying to say with a rousing game of “Guess the ASVAB waiver.” Also, I’ve purposefully omitted any names or ranks, for a variety of reasons.
-I think it is a flat out betrayal to a loyal ally. People that we have fought with and developed a trust that we don’t have with many middle eastern countries. We are abandoning them. They are going to fight until they are eradicated because the Turks hate them more than we hate ISIS. People we became friendly with on an individual and personal level are going to be murdered and we can do nothing to stop it. All to save a few dollars and not fight the Turks. They deserve our support, not our sympathy. We owe them more than this.
-I think we are totally abandoning the Kurds. I also think that there is a larger strategy of us not going to war with Turkey. I don’t know why Turkey is insistent about beating Syria. I think it’s too easy of a solution to talk things out and no bloodshed spilled. I kind of regret even going because now it’s like all we did was for nothing.
-I think this whole situation is pretty shitty honestly. I understand there’s a lot going on, but the SDF helped us and did a lot for us and just being over there and seeing it firsthand makes this whole situation even more bitter. I’m not gonna lie, if I hadn’t gone over there and seen them for myself, I probably wouldn’t give a rats ass just like most people. I feel like we truly betrayed them, especially given how much they did for us. We definitely wouldn’t have pushed the bad guys as far out as we did if we didn’t have the SDF. They were one of our key elements over there. In all, I just think this is a big shit show.
-Not really sure what to say! But I think it sucks that after all the people and resources they put into helping us beat isis that we are just going to sit back and watch turkey destroy them!
-So here is my take. I think that it will be tragic if the Kurds get massacred by Turkey. But this was an inevitable event and it was either gonna go one of two ways: the U.S. goes against a NATO ally, and therefore NATO itself, or we get out of Dodge to avoid that confrontation. As supportive as the SDF and YPG/YPJ have been of us, I think it’s responsible to keep in mind that this is the lesser of two evils where on one hand, you have the potential to start a major war, with an indescribable death toll, or you have a potential tragic and needless loss of life but nothing compared to the former. Maybe that is a drastic way of thinking, but there is nothing to say that leaving the Kurds to their own devices will lead to their eradication as it’s been implied. Yeah, there will probably be a lot of deaths and yes that is tragic, but the US is not the savior of the world. Sometimes we act like the world’s police but that only implies we act when someone does something wrong. In this case, whether we agree or not, Turkey has the backing to conduct this campaign and parallel to that, they aren’t doing anything wrong, whether we agree or not. If they start breaking international law, committing atrocities then yeah, we can act but there really is no good decision here. We Americans can’t decide on what role our country should take on the world stage. If we stay, we put American lives needlessly at risk. If we go, we put human life needlessly at risk..
-Kind of knew it was bound to happen. Hurts a little that we fought side by side with these guys to run out ISIS and to let them get stomped like they didn’t have a big role in getting back the country.
-During my tour in Syria I can’t recall a week passing without seeing at least a handful of injured, maimed, or dead come through the field hospital at our location. Initially it was easy to detach, as they weren’t “our guys,” but it didn’t take long to come to the realization that the SDF were bearing the vast majority of the physical toll during our fight against the caliphate. This isn’t to say that Americans weren’t put into harm’s way, but our exposure pales in comparison to what our (primarily) Kurdish allies had to endure.
These are just a few of the voices out there. The community of Syria veterans is a small one compared to, say, Iraq or Afghanistan. There were never more than a few thousand of us in the country at any given time, and what’s more, it was a quiet war by modern standards.
My goal is simple: I want to give the veterans of this quiet war to make their voices heard. This is simply the first step.
Kevin Wilson is a lifelong resident of North Carolina. He currently serves in the North Carolina Army National Guard as an artilleryman. His hobbies include writing, drinking, drinking while writing, and yelling at kids to get off his lawn. He currently holds the record for youngest grumpy old man in his battalion.
Voices from a Quiet War in Syria
by Kevin Wilson
This first appeared in The Havok Journal October 17, 2019. It is republished so that the “quiet war in Syria” is not forgotten.