Guest column: Fighting to win

As unrest in Iraq grows, America’s political and military leadership should do whatever it takes to get the job done, writes Vail Van Leuven.

By Vail Van Leuven

When our troops left Iraq, a few of us were discussing the likelihood of having to go back in. We all agreed it would happen. What we couldn’t decide was how long it would take. I see lots of problems going back with air power and drones.

The problem with air cover is collateral damage and friendly fire incidents. In World War II, our company lost 10 men - dead and wounded - to Marine aircraft and history says every outfit on Okinawa got shot with planes sooner or later.

I know that I, as a staff sergeant, have more military experience than President Obama. I went into combat as a PFC and scout. My first job was to lead the company across a minefield. We all made it but one. Two days later, I was a squad leader. I was doing the job of a platoon sergeant by the end of about 10 days.

A first lieutenant came to the front and placed me in charge of the rest of the company. When the Marines relieved us, I was the one to show them where the Japanese were. When we went north to the mountains with replacements, I was still in charge of the company. One time, we had to retake the highest mountain on Okinawa. I was the one to lead the advance. We got the job done. I lost no men, but others who were sent up lost some men.

I know what the boots on the ground guys in Iraq will need:

n Item 1: weapons that will kill.

n Item 2: orders to kill.

n Item 3: Give squad leaders the duty to give the order to kill the enemy, but train them better in the military law that says you cannot be given and must not accept an unlawful order. Here’s an example: A useless captain gave me an order to kill two little Japanese kids. I told him I wouldn’t do it and if he touched them I would kill him.

Our soldiers will do the job. If you leave the enemy dead, they don’t bother anybody any longer. With this kind of fighting you will save a lot of civilians.

Best wishes for the guys who will have to do this, It works! On Okinawa, the Army and Marine infantry lost about 7,500 killed in action. The Japanese had 120,000 soldiers when it started. One hundred ten thousand were killed, 10,000 surrendered and an estimated 150,000 Japanese civilians were killed.

Our navy lost slightly over 5,000 dead to the Kamikaze. If you fight to win, you will. Do you realize we don’t have a general or admiral who has ever been allowed to win a war?