• Brian M. Thompson

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There are 6 comments on POV: My Service in Afghanistan and the Illusion of Hollywood Endings

  1. Brian, many thanks to you and your comrades! Your service most definitely was not in vain… The disgraceful debacle perpetrated by our current (insert adjective) leaders is understandably heartbreaking and certainly not your fault… Let’s hope for better days… Cheers

  2. Thank you for your service. You were sent there to do a job and you did it well. What politicians have done before and after does not diminish your service and sacrafice. Thank you!

  3. “But I take comfort that my service did change me. In many ways, it made me stronger. I’m a better citizen, father, and husband because of it. Maybe it’s because the Army prepares you to deal with misery: You eat horrible food, live in poor accommodations, and work in a hostile environment.”

    Yes! Also: flexibility, discipline, adaptability, patience (“hurry up and wait”), and resilience.

    Although many students and professors will not understand or care, its important to use and share your experience (when needed… no one likes a VetBro or BroVet). Academia needs your – and other veterans’ – voice, mind, and experience.

    Regardless of your political views, degree, or future occupation, the collective task should be: preventing another Afghanistan. This responsibility, of course, rests with veterans and non-veterans alike.


  4. Many thanks for this insightful reflection.

    The entire dynamics of the conflict in which you served with the best of intentions are explored in Craig Whitlock’s “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War” (2021). This book is the rough equivalent of the Pentagon Papers, which put on display the systematic lying of the US government regarding the Viet Nam War (a conflict of much greater devastation than the war in Afghanistan). In this case, the misrepresentations of what was going on in Afghanistan were perpetrated by Republican and Democratic administrations alike over two decades. The final debacle is the responsibility of the entire Washington political class as well as the Pentagon and the intelligence services. The end of the conflict (which could have been predicted easily at the very beginning) was never going to be pretty. Revelations such as those found in “The Afghanistan Papers” should give pause to the young men and women who decide to serve in our armed forces. Will you be sent off to fight on the other side of the planet in a war whose precise origins and subsequent evolution (or “progress”) will be lied about by your leaders? The resistance to the military draft during the Viet Nam period led to the establishment of the US’s volunteer armed services. The latter has allowed our political class to use them with greater flexibility (sending them off to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, for example). If those wars were going to be fought with obligatory military service still in place in this country, they might not have been fought at all (or would have been less prolonged). Our never-ending wars become afterthoughts for much of the American people. You can just flip the channel, so to speak–something that did not happen during the Viet Nam War (with well over half million draftees crawling around in the jungles, trying to avoid booby-traps, ambushes, etc.).

    Finally, BU’s Pardee School would do a great service to its many students by engaging in a long series of activities (lectures, seminars, webinars, etc.) which would serve as a kind of “postmortem” for the Afghan conflict. Why and how did this whole thing happen? Perhaps the next generation of the country’s leaders will avoid getting us into similar quagmires in the future. That said, our country’s collective historical memory tends to be limited, so we shouldn’t necessarily count on it. Obligatory military service is about the only thing that would force our political class to pick its wars with greater care.

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