... But bin Laden had sparked an Amer­i­can call to ac­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Ev­ery gen­er­a­tion has its mo­ment. For many Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing my­self, who are part of a new gen­er­a­tion, the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a call to ac­tion.

In the years since, mil­lions have vol­un­teered to serve the coun­try in dif­fer­ent ways and Amer­ica is safer to­day be­cause of the pa­tri­o­tism and courage of these brave in­di­vid­u­als. Some gave their lives on the bat­tle­fields of Iraq and Afghanistan while oth­ers bear the scars of war. Those on the home front have sac­ri­ficed, too — of­ten be­cause of mul­ti­ple de­ploy­ments of loved ones. Very few have asked for any­thing in re­turn.

All Amer­i­cans can now take sat­is­fac­tion in what is surely a defin­ing mo­ment. Af­ter nearly a decade-long man­hunt, Osama bin Laden is dead. It’s a proud mo­ment, in fact. Soon af­ter it was re­ported, the news of bin Laden’s death was marked by a cho­rus of cheers and cel­e­bra- tion, re­mind­ing us all that the mem­ory of Sept. 11 is as vivid to­day, al­most 10 years later, as it was in the days af­ter the at­tack.

The op­er­a­tion that tar­geted bin Laden was the prod­uct of tire­less work and per­sonal sac­ri­fice. Amer­i­can spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces showed their ef­fi­ciency and pre­ci­sion, not just by killing bin Laden in­side a guarded com­pound, but by ex­tract­ing his body with­out tak­ing a sin­gle ca­su­alty.

Bin Laden’s death is an im­por­tant bench­mark in what will con­tinue to be a dan­ger­ous fight against an en­emy that is com­mit­ted to our de­struc­tion. Jus­tice has been served, but the over­all threat still re­mains.

In Afghanistan, Marines and sol­diers fully un­der­stand that news of bin Laden’s death does not mean a sud­den change in the dan­ger they face or the mis­sion at hand. Tal­iban and al Qaeda forces are show­ing no signs of re­lent­ing, mak­ing it all the more im­por­tant that we hold the gains achieved so far and con­tinue at­tack­ing the en­emy with speed and force.

Vic­tory in Afghanistan is within reach, but there is still a ways to go.

In the mean­time, it’s the obli­ga­tion of us all to sup­port the mil­i­tary in its ef­forts and guar­an­tee our men and women in uni­form have the ma­te­rial and moral sup­port to get the job done.

This also in­cludes pre­vent­ing un­needed dis­trac­tions that orig­i­nate through the po­lit­i­cal dis­course at home.

A good ex­am­ple is the pre­vi­ous de­bate on gov­ern­ment fund­ing that wrong­fully threat­ened mil­i­tary pay­checks. A shut­down was avoided, but just the mere sug­ges­tion of with­hold­ing mil­i­tary pay was an out­right dis­ser­vice to any­one un­der­tak­ing the com­bat mis­sion over­seas.

Now an im­pend­ing debt-limit vote presents an­other mo­ment of po­ten­tial un­cer­tainty for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. Daily re­ports from the front lines — not just news per­tain­ing to the death of bin Laden — plainly il­lus­trate an obli­ga­tion to do what is right by guar­an­tee­ing the mil­i­tary is never used as a bar­gain­ing chip.

Over­all, ev­ery Amer­i­can has a stake in what hap­pens in Afghanistan.

There are se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions at home and abroad.

For our mil­i­tary, it’s also about leav­ing with vic­tory. Ei­ther way, we are all in the fight to­gether. The Sept. 11 at­tacks are a con­stant re­minder of that fact.

Al­most ev­ery­one has a story about where they were when bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda mounted their at­tack or can re­call how they felt as it hap­pened.

For me, it was a feel­ing of anger and frus­tra­tion, along with a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to step for­ward and do my part.

I joined the Marine Corps soon af­ter and served three tours over­seas — two in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. Sept. 11 changed my life, as it did for mil­lions of other Amer­i­cans who rec­og­nize that now it’s our turn to come for­ward in de­fense of lib­erty.

With the death of bin Laden, mo­men­tum in Afghanistan con­tin­ues to build — thanks to the tremen­dous lead­er­ship and tal­ent within Amer­ica’s mil­i­tary to­day.

The mis­sion in Afghanistan will go on, but, un­der­stand­ing how far we’ve come, the re­moval of the leader who in­spired al Qaeda at the hands of U.S. forces is some­thing for which we can all be proud.

Rep. Dun­can D. Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, is a mem­ber of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee and the first Marine com­bat vet­eran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars elected to Congress.

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