I can’t help but notice that people are upset about the disposition of the soldiers on the cover of the Jan. 8 edition (“A resilient insurgency”). I side with the soldiers on Combat Outpost Badel, Afghanistan. No one, save those at Badel, are privy to the circumstances.

The Kunar River valley is one of the most hostile places on Earth for U.S. soldiers. We soldiers, tucked away on our super-forward operating bases, more than likely will never face such a tenacious enemy. The enemy fighter always gets a vote and, when he casts his ballot, all you can do is react and pray that your response is the right one.

Those soldiers were not thinking about helmets and body armor, and definitely couldn’t care less whether they had on an Army Combat Uniform top; for all we know, they may have been sleeping when the bullets started flying. Rather than uniform standards, they were worried about defending the scratched-out patch of dirt they call home.

Those of us who have been on small COPs know that the enemy doesn’t provide time to get into the “proper” uniform before their attack begins. And soldiers cannot be expected to live for a year with their full kit on at all times.

To the servicemembers complaining about “nonregulation” eye protection (“Don’t show GIs flouting safety,” letter, Jan. 14 and “Photo shows leaders lacking,” letter, Jan. 19), both soldiers were wearing their issued eye-pro. After-action reports exist for a reason, and those soldiers undoubtedly were corrected for their lack of headgear.

Let us all remember that, while we enjoy a relatively safe time overseas, these guys are fighting every day and, at places like COP Badel, often two or three times daily. If you are on a super-FOB, a logistical support area, in a hospital, or in a position where you do not have to leave “the wire,” please refrain from commenting on things you know nothing about.

Staff Sgt. David A. Potter Jr.

Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now