Mixed Feelings for Soldiers Deployed to Tsunami Region

Today, as most of us are anticipating the end of hump day and gazing longingly toward the weekend, Kwaun Selton and thousands, more U.S. soldiers will be headed for Southeast Asia to help recuperate areas and victims of the recent tsunami.  As the U.S. government continues to express a desire to abbreviate relief missions to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand, thousands of soldiers are being deployed to the devastated region.

When asked whether he is relieved to be going to India for a six-month deployment rather than to Iraq, Selton talked about both the positives and negatives of going to Asia.  “Six-month deployments are never fun.  You never know what’s going to happen because it’s an ongoing process.”

Although he is less than delighted about going so far for half a year, Selton can appreciate the work that he’s about to partake in.  He says that it is the most that he can do right now for the victims and communities of this natural disaster that claimed the lives of over 150,000 and left millions more without homes.

“[Helping others] gratifies the soul.  We actually help a lot of people; the humanitarian work is important and I participated in this kind of work in my own community.”

Selton, who expressed disappointment in being away from his family for such a long time, recently returned from a five-month stint in Iraq which ended last January and recognizes that it is possible that he will be returning there after his work is finished in India.

Before spending at least a week and a half on a ship for India, Selton and his shipmates will be in Haiti for a few days to help build badly needed hospitals.  However, unlike Haiti, not everyone wishes for the U.S. to remain present.

The president of Indonesia and several other Asian leaders have requested that foreign troops leave their countries by March 31 in an effort to reassert control over their country.  In response, the U.S. military has said that they will leave “minimal footprints” in these nations and while thousands of American soldiers will be and have been assigned to these areas, plans for military aid were scaled back significantly.

“A three-month period is enough, “said Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, “even sooner the better.”

Although the U.S. has a proposed deadline for the removal of all troops from Indonesia, countries friendly with the country are welcomed to stay as long as needed for the relief effort.