Some people worry that the war in Iraq will turn into another Vietnam. They fear heavy U.S. casualties in a war we can't win.
When asked to respond to that growing concern 2nd Lt. Stephen Ninesling said, "Who's to say we haven't already won based on the President's initial goals and objectives?"
Ninesling has been in Iraq since February. He's an administrative medical officer with the 1-152 Infantry (SIB) with the Indiana National Guard. The Terre Haute Federal Prison employee is currently home on a three week medical convalescent leave following hernia surgery. He'll head back to Iraq Dec. 20.
Ninesling's wife, the former Tammy Boor, is also a member of the military. She's in the Army National Guard. The couple has three children, Zachary, 10; Jacob, 9, and Jessica, 8.
Recently Ninesling discussed his thoughts and feelings about America's intervention in Iraq and how his military responsibilities, as well as his wife's, affects their family.
"I'm not an official spokesman," Ninesling said. "I can only speak from my own perspective. I don't think this is another Vietnam war. It's not even like Desert Storm. The mission there was to kick Iraqis out of Kuwait. Here we went in to dethrone a dictator, bring down a regime and to ensure he did not have weapons of mass destruction. It's going to take a long time. We're helping to restructure a government and build a whole new infrastructure."
When speaking about those who disagree with this war, Ninesling said the right to express their feelings against the war is one of the rights we're fighting to maintain. He added that, unfortunately, the cost of freedom has always been the loss of lives.
He took exception with some reports stating the Iraqi people do not want us there. "My platoon had an aid station in Iraq with a number of combat medics and a physician's assistant," Ninesling explained. "They'd go do humanitarian missions in the villages. The villagers welcomed my soldiers. They looked forward to us coming."
When discussing morale, Ninesling said he thinks most troops feel positive about their accomplishments and what they're doing. He said it's one step at a time but thinks they are accomplishing many of the goals they set out to do.
"Moral for the troops is like for anyone else. We have good days and bad days. A soldier wants to come home. The holidays are always a difficult time.
"It's weird," Ninesling continued. "But there hasn't been a day since I've been home that I haven't thought about my platoon in Iraq. I need to get back to them. It's a bittersweet feeling. I want to stay home and I want to go, need to go. I want to be with my troops during Christmas. My wife has strong family support here. So it makes it easier to go back. I can never thank her family enough for that."
Ninesling was asked why we haven't yet gotten Saddam Hussein.
"I haven't seen anything to support or deny his demise," Ninesling said. "But he has to be correct every time. We only have to be correct one time. I fully believe that we want to get him and, if not already, I think in time we will. I have a lot of faith in our country and our abilities."
Ninesling spoke of his concerns about his wife being in the military. He said the possibility of his wife being sent to Iraq is a disturbing thought.
"I'm not happy about the prospect. I'd rather they'd send me again than send her. But she's a die hard patriot with over 17 years in the service. She'll do what she's called to do.
"She's a good soldier," Ninesling went on. "She'd want to go. But she's also an excellent mother. And the mother side of her would not want to leave her kids. If she was called, I'd not want her to go but I'd accept it. That's part of Army values, duty and selfless service.
"And whether or not I agree with our country being over there, which I'll never say, I'm a soldier and I'll do as I'm ordered to do."