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Mission Creep
Perspective on the News
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Pete Garcia

Mission creep: The tendency for a task, especially a military operation, to become unintentionally wider in scope than its initial objectives.

The United States just recently crossed the 12-year mile marker for an active war in Afghanistan.  We managed to beat a previously held record (held by ourselves) with the length of fighting edging out the Vietnam War by a month.  Both wars comparatively started off in one direction, but seemed to lose their direction somewhere along the way.  A decade later, people were wondering why we really went there in the first place.

We entered Vietnam unofficially in 1954 (officially in 1964) to counter Soviet expansionism in the region.  We left 19 years later with 58,282 Service Members either KIA or MIA with no clear-cut victory under our belt.  We went into divided Vietnam to help unify a nation, and somehow managed to divide our own during the whole experience.

We went into Afghanistan with righteous indignation after the attacks on 9/11 to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven from which to operate from, but now we are trying to build something that has never existed there.  With the recent history of the Arab Spring, we know given the opportunity, an Islamic nation will enthusiastically trade in a secular dictator for a theocratic regime, whose only trick they have to offer up is a rigid and bloody Sharia Law.  At this point as far as the Grand Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) goes, I think we are just trying to beef up Hamid Karzai’s ‘government’ just long enough so that we can build a small window of time between our exit and their governmental collapse.  At least we can say that we did our best before we washed our hands of the whole event.

Having been there and lost friends in this war, I don’t think of the military’s mission as having failed or become irrelevant, because you can stick our military anywhere on the planet and we’ll find a way to make the mission happen.  The problem is the purpose of the mission itself.  Somehow we’ve lost our way on what our task and purpose is which means that leaving too soon will risk all the gains made, and staying any longer seems unpalatable by all.  I find it ironical that we are willing to give our sworn enemies (Al Qaeda) a firm red-line (2014) of which we will not cross in staying, but we can’t find it within ourselves to give our other sworn enemy (Iran) a firm red-line of what they can’t cross in their race to acquire a nuclear weapon.

A terrible boxer will telegraph his punches which always results in him losing the fight.  Giving our enemy a clear line in the sand of when we will pull out, is not only not helpful to the ground commanders in the fight, but it signals to those who we are supposed to be training and building up (Afghan forces), that our friendship has an expiration date.  If we are to fight, let’s fight to win, not fight to come to a draw.  We are to take the fight to the enemy, and if our enemy is hiding out in Pakistan as the Vietcong did in Cambodia, then we take the fight to Pakistan.  We will no more win a war only using drone attacks than will a boxer win using jabs.

The truth is that a tribal country like Afghanistan is still stuck in the Bronze Age, who if hit by a massive Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) wouldn’t even feel it.  There can be no change there unless you can either change their religion or change 3,000 years of tradition.  And whatever government you install there, will never make us happy or the local populace.  Politicians in Afghanistan have their tribal allegiances to worry about first, then their religious, and then everyone else.  This is why Hamid Karzai won’t lose any sleep over his ability to flip alliances at will.  Plus, the level of corruption that is sure to accompany any political endeavor there will cement their chance of success without direct intervention at exactly the same odds the Titanic had at a successfully navigating through an iceberg.

Scan Your Lane

When you were young, you had all these dreams and grandiose plans for what you would do and where you would end up, but somewhere along the way, you too lost your way.  In military speak; a 25 meter target is that issue that is immediately in your sights you have to deal with.  This might be a mission, a health issue or whether you have enough money to pay your mortgage at the beginning of the month.  Maybe it is a career or some habit that just seems to suck up all your time.  This world is more rigged than a Vegas roulette table, and it is geared at keeping you from focusing on God and God’s plan for your life.

Our lives become a fertile breeding ground for mission creep and the world with all of its assorted materialistic distractions tend to become so encumbering that you soon find out that you just don’t have time for God anymore.  One thing always leads to another, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to find a quiet place to put your prayer and devotion time in anymore.  The world will find every excuse in the book to keep you from fulfilling what Christ has called you to do.

"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." (Ephesians 1:4-5 NKJV)

You and I were uniquely created and selected to live in this exact moment in time to do a specific mission that is tailor-made to compliment the gifts and talents that are uniquely our own.  When Christ was on the earth, His operations were fairly simple.  Jesus built no temples or shrines, had no writings, and didn’t build a complex works-based religion.  He simply said to those 12 men, ‘follow me’, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.   And that rag-tag group of 12 men dropped everything and followed Him, and empowered by the Holy Spirit…they turned the world upside down.

Jesus called each one of us because we make up a particular part of the Body of Christ to fulfill a specific mission that is hand-tailored for us.  He is the purpose in our task, and our mission is wherever He puts us.  When we grasp that a closed door is not failure, but simply God moving us into a new mission, the anxiety and depression that the world tries to stigmatize us with, suddenly seems irrelevant and petty.

It is His intent to allow those trials and tribulations that are uniquely ours, that in our weakness we can rely on His strength to accomplish His will by revealing our true nature He knew we had in us all along.  Remember, even though our nation may enter into unwinnable wars, the battle over you and I was fought and won 2,000 years ago on a cross outside of Jerusalem on a hill called Calvary. 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by dayFor our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."       (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

About Pete Garcia

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