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Steve Hansen: Afghan war rages on out of the media spotlight

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Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:00 am

Her name was Army Capt. Jennifer M. Moreno. She was from San Diego. Capt. Moreno was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Oct. 6.

Army Spc. Angel L. Lopez, of Parma, Ohio, died Oct. 5 as a result of wounds from a firefight in the same area of operations.

Still another, Army Staff Sgt. Richard L. Vasquez, of Seguin, Texas, died Nov. 13 from wounds also caused by an IED.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases but typical of what is still happening in Afghanistan every day. Losses from combat deaths range between one to 15 military personnel each week in a war that never seems to end.

We are losing some of America’s finest. All of them volunteered to serve their country without reservation.

The war has been ongoing since Oct. 2001. Since that date, almost 2,300 service members have been killed and approximately 19,500 have been wounded in action. It’s the longest active conflict in American history, at the cost of untold billions of taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that Operation Enduring Freedom has all but been forgotten by the national media and the American public. It’s a rare event to see reports of weekly casualties in this endless conflict.

One thing that makes this war so unusual from past major conflicts is the lack of public and media participation. As a contrast in World War II for example, just about everyone played their part — whether it was in military service, working in equipment-producing factories, food and energy rationing, buying war bonds — even saving old toothpaste tubes for metal content.

Now, people can go about their business relatively carefree without a second thought of what is happening to their fellow Americans over 7,000 miles away.

I didn’t know Jennifer Moreno, Angel Lopez, Richard Vasquez or the hundreds of other service members who have been killed in this 13-year operation. Like most, I have not been directly affected. But I still grieve for the families. I know their losses can never be replaced, and their lives have been altered forever.

Recently, the U.S. and Afghan governments tentatively agreed to continue American participation in this war for an unspecified number of years. As of this time, troop deployments could range from 8,000 to 15,000. But news stores have already emerged that President Karzai is refusing to sign the pact.

Whether the United States can continue to successfully support a corrupt central Afghan government, coupled with various tribal conflicts throughout the country, remains to be seen.

This war will most likely continue without much national media attention. No debate will take place. Unfortunately, most of the public will remain unaware of the many ongoing and future personal tragedies.

But service members from all races, backgrounds and genders will still be in the fight. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are yet to be sacrificed in a war that has realistic objectives yet to be defined.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and former serviceman.

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