Local News

Since 9-11, War On Terrorism Has Impacted Military, Families

Posted September 11, 2003

— For many U.S. servicemembers, their lives have been nonstop ever since the events of Sept. 11.

Over the last two years, it has not been a day in the park for the Peppers family. Kevin and Maggie Peppers are both Fort Bragg soldiers. Last July, Kevin deployed to Afghanistan for six months. When he returned, Maggie went to Iraq. Now Maggie's back, and Kevin is in Iraq. The two also have two children.

"Their world has been turned upside down," Maggie said.

Maggie Peppers said it has been hard on everyone, especially her husband who has been gone the longest.

"He would like a break to spend time with the family because unfortunately as my son has stated many times, why does my dad have to keep missing my birthdays," she said.

As members of the 82nd Airborne Division, both Kevin and Maggie expect to be on the go. These days, most of the military is running at full throttle. Fort Bragg's outgoing commander Gen. Dan McNeill supports the defense secretary's decision to look at how the forces are being used.

"Right now, no one disputes the force is busy, but no one disputes it's getting the job done because it surely is," he said.

The fight against terror in Afghanistan and Iraq continues to consume the military. More than 150,000 servicemembers are deployed right now, but in the eyes of WRAL's military experts, they are the wrong troops for the job.

Retired Capt. Craig Marks believes the military has done a terrible job of preparing soldiers for what to expect during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"If we tell kids the way home is Baghdad, when they get to Baghdad, they expect to go home. You don't change the mission," he said.

Retired Gen. Robert Springer said the mission has changed, and while troops were successful during the war, they have not been nearly as effective post-war. Springer believes the military should send a lighter and leaner force to Iraq.

"The individual who drives a tank. A tank crew in the U.S. Army, for example, is not trained to fight guerilla warfare," he said. "They are trained to fight out in the open against other forces."

In order to support active duty units, the Pentagon is now using 180,000 reservists and National Guardsmen. They will likely serve for a year. Both of WRAL's military experts believe the Pentagon is relying too much on these troops, and that will hurt recruiting and retention down the road.


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