Yesterday being Veterans Day, I received a few requests from fellow American Muslims who wanted to know about my experiences in the U.S. Navy. I’ll briefly touch on my first deployment to Adriatic Sea aka “The Box” during the time of NATO intervention on behalf of Bosnian Muslims who were victims of Serbian ethnic cleansing.
I was part of a carrier group with sailors and marines who were participated in Operation Deliberate Force, which was a military action taken against Serbian aggression, that aggression included the massacre of some 8,000 Muslims in the village of Srebrenica. On my my first day in “The Box,” we were summoned to General Quarters (GQ), meaning battle stations, due to a submarine that had come in close proximity of our ship. I never received firm confirmation, but the word was it was an Iranian sub. Iran was one of the few nations that actually assisted Bosnian militias.
As an American Muslim, I felt good serving, especially seeing that my country was doing something constructive, not destructive, in the Muslim world. I felt the same way in terms of our involvement in the conflict in Kosova in which we also assisted ethnic Albanian Muslims, who were victims of Serbs. I received the NATO medal, Sea Service medal and Combat Action medal for that deployment as the first of other decorations, which I received while on active duty.
I was not as politically astute then as now to know that our response was a delayed one, but it was done nonetheless. Because of my service, I have mixed feelings about U.S. military intervention anywhere including in the Muslim world. I know that we intervene militarily based upon geo-political interests, not just to save lives. During my time in the Navy, the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi took place in which hundreds of thousands more people were massacred than in Bosnia; however, intervention in Rwanda and Burundi was not seen to fit into U.S. interests.
I believe that the U.S. military should be primarily for home defense and to assist others in very limited circumstances, not to project U.S. strategic and economic power as it functions today. I’m for a stronger Coast Guard to protect against piracy, sea-launched terrorism and for intercepting drug traffickers. I’m not in favor of keeping military basis that were opened post WWII like in Germany, Japan and other places. I also believe that our military should immediately leave Afghanistan.
In future, perhaps I will write more about my experiences and thoughts pertaining to the U.S. military. My salute to all fellow veterans.