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Military Connection: Iraq Vets on Air Strikes: By Debbie Gregory

air strikesPresident Obama has authorized the use of air strikes to assist the Republic of Iraq against the insurgent group that the U.S. government has been calling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

ISIL, also referred to in the media as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and as The Islamic State, has been determined in its mission to establish a Sunni Islamic state in the lands of Shiite controlled Syria and Iraq. ISIL began land grabbing in Syria in 2013 and in Iraq in 2014. On January 3, 2014, ISIL declared Fallujah an Islamic state, after it had successfully captured the city from the Iraqi Security Forces. All through this year, ISIL’s power, influence and territory has expanded through Iraq. ISIL now controls nearly one third of Syria, and almost half of Iraq.

U.S. air strikes were authorized by the president on August 7th. The attacks, carried out by jets and drones, have attacked ISIL forces, targeting their armored units and vehicles. Along with the attacks from the sky, the U.S. has also been dropping supplies to an estimated 150,000 Iraqi civilians. These civilians have been targeted for elimination by ISIL and trapped in the Sinjar Mountains, where they were under constant attack from ISIL and without food and water.

Many in the American military and Veteran communities support the air strikes, including several members of Congress. Of course, the most outspoken supporters are the Veterans who served in Iraq.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) supports the targeted air strikes and the humanitarian air drops, but hopes that the president will consult Congress for a long term solution. Duckworth is a Veteran of the Illinois National Guard, and was one of the first women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth lost both of her legs in 2004 when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq.

“Even though these air strikes were necessary, these actions alone will not end the crisis in Iraq,” Duckworth said. “The long-term solution must be a political solution, not a military one. I encourage President Obama to return to Congress and begin the discussion of the steps we need to take to stabilize Iraq.”

As the Iraqi people still dwell among constant warfare, the members of the U.S. military and the Veterans who have previously fought and bled in Iraq watch and wait to see how effective the air strikes will be, and what the future holds for the American military and Iraq.

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Military Connection: Iraq Vets on Air Strikes:   By Debbie Gregory