Local News

Veterans of Iraq war worry they fought for nothing

Posted June 18, 2014 6:38 p.m. EDT

— As President Barack Obama and congressional leaders debate how to respond to the growing insurgency in Iraq, veterans in the Fayetteville area are watching in dismay as the gains they fought for several years ago are quickly disappearing.

Matt McGuire, a former Fort Bragg soldier, was among the first inside Iraq in 2003, and he was deployed there a second time two years later. He said many veterans are "sick and disgusted" to see the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group quickly overrun much of Iraq.

"I think it's almost expected because we pulled out early, in my opinion, before the country was really stable," McGuire said Wednesday.

Obama, who visited Fort Bragg in December 2011 to welcome home troops two weeks before the complete pullout of American forces in Iraq, now is looking to send about 100 Special Forces soldiers back to serve in a non-combat training role for Iraqi forces. Another 275 troops have already been deployed to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Fort Bragg is home to the Army Special Operations Command, but it's unknown if any of the Special Forces soldiers who could go to Iraq would come from Fort Bragg. Officials on post declined to comment Wednesday, referring all questions to the Defense Department.

The president has said he doesn't want to send combat troops into Iraq, and McGuire agrees that the U.S. doesn't need a show of force in the country.

"I think it should be small – direct targets on small targets to show that we're not going to put up with their mess," he said. "My concern would be that if we didn't do anything at all, that the country would go to ruins again."

He said he and other veterans of the Iraq war fear their efforts will be for naught if ISIS isn't stopped.

"A lot of friends of mine – veterans that have gone with me – felt really sick and disgusted by it. In my opinion, I think it's preventable right now," he said.