Signs along Fort Campbell Blvd. just outside the sprawling Army post read “welcome home 101st Airborne.” But some in the military community on the Tennessee-Kentucky fear airstrikes in Syria could lead to boots on the ground.
The air assault division has been on near constant rotations since 9/11. While there’s been no talk about sending troops in to Syria, many near this post would rather not see another conflict in the Middle East.
“Our military is tired,” says Geri Phillips, clutching a camouflage purse that says “Army mom.” “We’re sick of it. We don’t need to be in any more countries”
Phillips says she’s proud of her son’s three tours of duty, even though she’s not sure they’ve accomplished all that much.
“We can’t always constantly get involved in other countries and make them Democratic like us,” she says. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Only if the U.S. suffered a direct attack would Phillips support a military strike.
For the men and women in uniform, it’s difficult to have a public opinion since the commander-in-chief has spoken.
“I thought this was going to be a cooling off period for us for the next couple of years. But whatever is necessary, I guess,” says Staff Sgt. Darius Duncan, who served in Iraq in 2003.
Still, Duncan says any strike should be handled from a distance. He sees no role for ground troops.
“We can send tomahawks from my grandmother’s backyard,” he says, with a laugh. “So I would say keep boots off the ground and hit ‘em hard where it counts.”
Other soldiers say they’ve been so busy training for what will likely be another trip to Afghanistan, they’ve hardly paid attention to Syria. A few who refuse to talk on the record say they hope Congress blocks the White House from going ahead with airstrikes.
“I’m afraid this is just the beginning,” says Deborah Piercy, who runs a shipping and greeting card shop just off post.
Piercy’s husband fought in the first Gulf War. She says Congress needs to consider steps two and three before pulling the trigger in Syria. She worries a U.S. strike will only prompt retaliation of some sort.
“We have to show them that we’re not afraid to do what we have to do,” she says. “But I certainly hope they’ve thought long and hard about it.”