Wed, 18 Jun 2014 01:10:02 GMT — The cost of war is still on the minds of Valley Veterans three years after the United States pulled out of Iraq. "We are over-represented per capita in combat deaths," Felix Rodriguez, Vietnam Veteran, said. The war cost the U.S. more than a trillion dollars and about 4,500 U.S. lives were lost. Forty-seven of which were from the Valley. Now Iraq is on the brink of war. More than 3,000 militants are marching towards Baghdad and their goal is to overthrow the Iraqi government. "Right now it's getting into a sectarian war, it is very clear, we have seen the early signs before but now it is becoming more visible," Dr. Tamer Balci, Associate Professor of Middle East History at the University of Pan-American, said. Dr. Balci is an expert on Middle East conflicts. He said the militant group known as 'The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS is not looking for a fight with the U.S. "My understanding is that they are trying to pull the U-S on their side because if they ever become a state they need legitimacy," he said. ISIS separated from al-Qaida in Syria and moved south into Iraq. Dr. Balci said they were met with little resistance by Iraqi soldiers the U.S. trained before troops pulled out back in 2011. "The U.S. trained soldiers and left the Iraqi forces they were supposed to defend the country, not leave it and run away, unfortunately that is happening in northern Iraq," he said. Right now the president could order as many as 275 armed service members into the country to protect the U.S. Embassy. While the president decides what level of involvement the U.S. will have, Valley veterans believe this is a conflict the country should stay out of. "I feel that these people need to take care of themselves the neighboring countries should step up and assume some responsibility," Rodriguez said.
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