Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry also commanded the U.S.-led coalition forces there, as a three-star Army general during the height of the war in the mid-2000s. In this in-depth story by the National Journal, the consulting professor at FSI and William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at CISAC, tells that writer that as he lectures college students today, he recognizes that few of them will ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
With the last troops now leaving Afghanistan – ending the longest war in American history – the former commander has deeply mixed feelings about the state of the all-volunteer military, since the draft of young American men ended in 1973.
He says thousands of young men and women, all of whom had volunteered to fight, lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the American people don’t seem to know much – nor much care about – the wars fought over there, beyond thanking those soldiers for their service when they bump into them returning home from duty at airports and bus stations.
“Somehow, we have to find ways to reconnect the American people and their armed forces,” Eikenberry says, “so that there is a more direct and visceral understanding of the political, social, and economic costs of war.”