Accuracy in Media

The American public is bombarded with stories from the media about the war in Iraq, and very few are positive.  It is true that war is hell, and tragic for the many wounded or killed.  But there are some successes in combating terrorism and establishing a stable democratic government in Iraq that often seem to be overlooked by the media. 

Sergeant Brent Tomlinson, a Cavalry Scout for a reconnaissance unit of the Texas Army National Guard, said in an interview last December the average American thinks the war in Iraq is a bad idea because they don’t get to see what the U.S. military is doing as a coalition for good. 

Tomlinson said the media is counterproductive because it focuses solely on how many soldiers are dying and the media fails to mention how many schools are being opened or how many cities now have electricity and clean water systems.

In December 2005 Sergeant Tomlinson returned from Iraq after completing a ten-and-a-half month long mission.  He was part of a security team for a counterintelligence agency in northern Iraq, an area predominantly inhabited by Kurds. 

Tomlinson admitted there is some risk involved in reconnaissance missions but said he enjoys his job because it is like hide and go seek.  He even named his mulatto bulldog Scout.

A native Texan, Tomlinson said he always wanted to join the military.  As a kid he said he remembers wanting to emulate the characters on the screen in movies such as “The Green Berets” with John Wayne and “Navy Seals.”  Discouraged by family members, he did not join the Marines after graduating from high school as he had planned.  But seven years ago, at age 31, he joined the Texas Army National Guard.

Tomlinson’s reconnaissance unit in the National Guard went through six months of training at Ft. Hood, Texas before being deployed to Iraq in February 2005. 

In Northern Iraq, Tomlinson said the Kurds live in rural areas that are dotted by the free flow of commerce in flea markets.  He said foreign aid along with the money from successful Iraqi businessmen returning to Iraq from the U.S. are contributing to the growth and progress of the country. 

“In general, life is better than it was under Saddam Hussein,” Tomlinson said.  “The world has opened up for these people.”

He said they are not living in ignorance anymore and they are no longer made to be Saddam Hussein’s robots.

A witness to the torture locations in Baghdad that Hussein used on the Iraqi people, Tomlinson said the Iraqis, specifically the Kurds, don’t live in fear anymore.

Tomlinson noted that the conditions in Northern Iraq are different than those of Southern Iraq because the Kurds don’t tolerate terrorism and they are actively pressing forward to build a better life for their region, instead of waiting for the world to do it for them.

And although the media seems adamant in portraying the idea that the Iraqis don’t want the U.S. in Iraq, Tomlinson said from his personal experience living among the Kurds, they are glad the U.S. is in Iraq.  But the Kurds are also eager for the day when they can take full responsibility for their country’s well-being.

“I really can’t say why we went to Iraq in the first place,” Tomlinson said.  “I know that as a soldier I was called up by my government to go and help those in another part of the world that needed our help.  That is what soldiers, marines, airman and sailors do.  They protect and help those that can’t.  I don’t understand or care about the political reasons.  I do understand that we should not leave until our mission is complete, whenever it may be.”

A growing number of Americans have unfortunately bought into the negative coverage of the war. There is definitely a positive side to the situation as well. It is important that the U.S. soldiers in Iraq be made aware that most Americans believe in what they’re doing, and support their mission. That alone would be a way to honor not only the U.S. soldiers who continue to put their lives on the line in Iraq, but the soldiers who have fallen in this war on global terrorism.

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