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Letter: Iraq mission not 'failure'

The official Syrian Arab News Agency released this

The official Syrian Arab News Agency released this photo on June 29, 2014, of government army units riding on tanks allegedly in Zgharo village, where army forces have tightened their control over the Zgharo mountain close to the Latakia countryside. Credit: Getty Images

Recently I traveled with other veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Fort Drum to mark the 10th anniversary of the deployment of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division to Iraq. Of course, much of the talk had to do with the current situation ["Kurdish leaders lash out at Iraq's al-Maliki," News, July 11].

Iraqi War veterans, like most Americans, are concerned about the unraveling of security in Iraq and the idea that our mission there was a failure. It's sickening to our nation's soul, after so much American sacrifice there.

Having led a team to build a police department in Samarra, Iraq, I feel strongly about this issue. The stability of Iraq should not reflect poorly on the Americans who served so honorably there or America as a nation. Our mission was not to guarantee the Iraqi people a peaceful and prosperous future, it was to remove a ruthless dictator and set the conditions for the Iraqi people to build a democratic society.

We gave the Iraqi people the gift of freedom. What they do with that gift is entirely up to them.

Kenneth Bombace, Mount Sinai