My deployment in Qatar: Operation Footprint

[Editor's Note: Jennifer Huntsman is a US Army Reserve Signal Captain stationed at MacDill Air Force Base with Joint Communication Support Element (JCSE). She is currently deployed in Qatar. Jenny will be writing for The Daily Loaf about life in the military.]

There are moments in a day where it is clear why we are deployed in the Middle East.  I personally do not go through town with my rifle looking for the Taliban, but my small footprint does make a difference.  The monstrosities that take place in the desert are too hard to be ignored.  I have not been brain washed to believe this to be true.  I believe in my heart that there are acts of hatred out here in the desert that need be stopped, and we are here to help.

My Dad moved around a lot when he was younger.  He was born in Berkeley California, and went to high school in Silicon Valley.  Most of my Dad's side of the family resides in the San Jose area.  I went to high school in the suburbs of Seattle and claim the Emerald City as my hometown.  My parents will strongly disagree, but from my west coast roots I was raised to be a peace loving, recycling, liberal, blue state loving girl.  On the other hand I am an Army Brat.  Born ready and trained.  My Dad was in the Army when I was younger.  I was born on an Army base and raised in many towns across the United States. My friends were in disbelief after I signed my contract to be property of Uncle Sam.  Not many people from Seattle join the military, but my friends quickly forget that my Boeing Dad is a retired Army soldier.  Being raised in the military you may expect for me to be a "don't mess with America," strong religious ties, conservative, red state loving girl.  As an Army Captain my political views are irrelevant.  My point is that I was raised with both eyes open to the big red, white, and blue picture.  There has been no brain washing in my world.  My views of this Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), or President Obama's Struggle Against Violent Extremism (SAVE), are based off of what I have read, what I have seen, and what I have heard.

Greg Mortenson built schools in the most remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Mr. Mortenson's school project is documented in his book Three Cups of Tea.  What moved me from his book is that he writes about providing education to areas where extremist groups are located.  There are some areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are so poor that if Osama Bin Laden walked down the street no one would blow a whistle because the local government is so corrupt.  Educated adults have skills and knowledge that are marketable; in turn this builds up economy.  Many of Mr. Mortenson's business projects, to educate children, were organized at the Pakistan Marriott.  This hotel was attacked by a suicide bomber in September 2008 killing over 53 and a fire erupted last week injuring 12 people.  Pakistan and Afghanistan are poor countries, and their Government is trying very hard to keep Terrorists off their land.  Terrorism will not end by the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Bin Laden wasn't the founder of combat Jihad extremism; he was influenced by Abdullah Yusuf Azzam.  Azzam was a Sunni Islamic Theologian who heavily recruited his militia in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  His Islamic Army was given to Bin Laden after his assassination in 1989.  All of the training camps, all of the funds, and the whole way of thinking must be destroyed to end Terrorism.  Recruitment and training camps are located in the most remote poor regions of the world.  Unfortunately, the poor are persuadable with currency, livestock, and even weapons unlike a developed country such as Qatar.  Education is the key for future development of these poor regions.  Through education we may eliminate safe havens from our enemy.

Islamic law has a system called qisas; this means an eye for an eye retribution.  

There are so many crimes in the Middle East and Southwest Asia that the ACLU would faint over.  Women are getting acid thrown into their face for attending school, not wanting to marry a particular man, and sometimes for no reason at all.  Locations in the Middle East, where there is a high population of Westerners, are being attacked through suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices, and mortars.  Many of these attacks are not targeting U.S. troops; they are targeting British families working in the oil industry, tourists, missionaries, and media personnel.  There is still piracy at sea, forced marriages, slavery, and legalized murder throughout remote areas of the Middle East and Southwest Asia as well as genocide in Darfur.  Not everyone from these regions hates Westerners and is evil.  I have met the most hospitable people here.  I have been very lucky to meet people from this region of the world who are educated, or born and raised into modernization, and growing societies.

We are here to destroy violent extremism.  We are here to help rebuild infrastructure from decades, sometimes centuries, of wars.  We are here to show this world that there is hope, education, freedom, and peace in arms reach.  We are teaching their military how to defend, and how to fight.  I truly believe we are here to make this place a better place to live, to travel to, and to work with.  We live in a very small world.  Negative effects from other countries trickle down like dominos and hurt our own Country.  We need to help those that are less fortunate than us, for humanity reasons as well as for selfish reasons.  As Americans we must keep our footprint deep, to swallow the hate and to drown the war on terror.


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