By Chaplain Colonel Daniel Karanja, 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber)
/ Posted on September 16, 2021
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – LACKLAND, Texas – Since the recent events in Afghanistan, I have engaged with my wingers and families about how events like September 11 and how the events in Afghanistan affect our airmen, veterans and civilians.
Like most veterans, I have followed closely the comments of our senior military leaders who also have personal experiences in Afghanistan. Collectively, their messages urge us to watch each other, as the aftermath of Afghanistan and the memory of 9/11 are painful to see, in part because of our past deployment experiences in these and other places. places of the world. To better understand the pain associated with these events, I offer these three thoughts:
1. Our strong emotions and diverse opinions about what is happening emanate from a deeply personal and sincere belief and commitment to our Oath of Office, Airman’s Creed, and our core Air Force values.
2. Our strong emotions and diverse opinions about Afghanistan and other places perhaps stem from what is historically known as the principles of the just war tradition attributed to classical Greek and Roman thinkers and early theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. There are generally seven principles that attempt to explain why and how wars are fought. They are: a just cause, declared by a legitimate authority, a just intention, a reasonable chance of success, the last resort, the distinction between civilians and combatants and the proportionate use of force.
While there is room for much debate on these seven principles, they provide reasonable insight that can help us in our dialogue on current events in Afghanistan and historic, but painful events like September 11. There is an opportunity and space to agree and disagree on the why and how, however, our deployment experiences are legitimate and not the subject of much debate. We can agree that the price of war is high. The soldiers who fought in this war and those who sacrificed their lives on September 11, 2001, did so in order to protect the common good of innocent people, their sacrifice was priceless.
The soldiers, women and men, are people of good will who give their all to protect their fellow human beings whom they have never met before and will probably never see each other again after their redeployment. This kind of service and sacrifice to humanity is important and is not lost despite what we see unfolding in Afghanistan.
The memories of the ramp ceremonies and memorial ceremonies are fresh in our minds and hearts as we honored those in our formations who made the ultimate sacrifice. These memories touch a lower nerve known only to those who have stood in these formations. In the coming days and weeks to come, let us give ourselves the gift of unconditional presence and deep listening.
3. As we reflect on our values, the tradition of just war, let us also talk about moral wounds. Although this is fairly “new” terminology, the military experience is not new. According to Brett T. Litz (National Center for PTSD, VA Boston, Mass.) And others, moral injury occurs when a person feels like they have “failed to prevent harm” from happening or “testified to acts that transgress deeply held feelings. moral beliefs.
Our pain is fueled by the fact that we care deeply about what is going on. Our cohesion and common sense of mission require that we take the time to speak and reflect on these current events, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our dialogue could also include our sense of personal moral violation among other concerns we bear witness to.
It is an itinerary and a journey that are familiar to us and together we can come together and support each other to move forward, one step at a time! We have protected others, we have fulfilled our vocation and now is the time to listen deeply to one another. Please call the chaplain of your 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) and the Surgeon General’s office at 210-977-2014.