Dear Syria: We Are Ready to Go Like That


When asked by a BBC reporter if we are ready to go “like that” in case of chemical warfare in Syria, Secretary of Defense Hagel confirmed, “We are ready to go, like that.”

“The options are there, the United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those options,” said Hagel.

As a member of a military family, I am all too aware of what it takes to be ready to go “like that.” It isn’t the snap of the fingers the BBC reporter implied.

Being ready to go “like that” means that we have been ready to go every day since 9/11. It means that trouble in the world brings a certain amount of despair. This again? It means you wonder if anyone does anything in that section of the world that would ever bring peace — but being ready to do it if that is all there is to do.

Being ready to go “like that” for a military family means that the news that the Russians are sending warships to the area makes you suddenly, fully and completely aware (again) of what your servicemember does all day.

It means your heart swells with pride at the same moment your gut shrinks a little with … what? Fear? Worry? Or just memories?

Being ready to go “like that” means that the little map of ships converging around Syria are not plastic pieces in a Battleship game. Those ships are full of thousands of our husbands, our wives, our parents, our children who have been gone for months already. It means knowing that they want to do — they are perhaps eager to do — what they have been trained to do.

Being ready to go “like that” means that when we see pictures of children in body bags lined up on a curb with their faces exposed so that they might be identified, we notice the child so small that his legs wouldn’t hang over the edge of a carseat. It means when it comes to world peace we families have more than pity, we have skin in the game, dammit.

Being ready to go “like that” for a dozen years makes you aware of how politicians and activists and rebels use those pictures to manipulate our feelings. And still not being quite able to put those pictures out of a suburb in Damascus out of our minds.

Being ready to go “like that” for so long means that you know that deployments can be lengthened, R&Rs cancelled, transfers put off. It means that your family is tethered with a two-hour recall and all that entails. It means you feel angry and selfish and frightened at the same time.

Most of all being ready to go “like that” means that you are aware in a new way of how much money it costs to be this ready. It makes you think of sequestration in a whole new way. It makes you wonder where the money went exactly.

Is everyone as ready to go as they were this time last year? Are the edges of this force now frayed? It makes you wonder what the role of the United States in the world is supposed to be.

And can we always afford to be ready “like that?”


About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at
  • lovely and passionately written. Thank you!

  • StarlaRose

    I understand the “need” to help with Syria, but my mind concentrates on the how. How are we able to afford it? We’re drawing down, slashing benefits left and right, and our civilian counterparts are not in a good place either. We are at the brink of a economic collapse and now this? How much further does the government want to push the military? How many more months and years will it take for them to see that we cannot afford it anymore with both lives lost and money we do not have.

    Yes, I understand what the military is meant to do. But at the same time we have issues within our own borders our military could be better served doing than fighting someone elses war. It’s high time we realize that the USA is not the “World Police”, and concentrate on our own people for a change. This is not our war, chemical weapons or not. There are other countries vastly capable of helping Syria.

    You could even go as far to say it will turn out the same way Iraq and Afghanistan have. Their people essentially hate us for the “help” we’ve given them and for what? Their way of life, their country and their wars continue despite our “help”.

    No, no, no… I think we need to stay out of it this time.

    • Olga

      My feelings exactly! This needs to end. I’m afraid that Syria will wind up being another Vietnam if even one boot touches the ground.

  • Patti

    I agree with StarlaRose…..let someone else step in…we have enough problems in our own country. Would they do the same if we were in trouble??

  • navy personnel

    Selfish is the keyword. If you think your military family like me don’t need to go to war and punish the bad guys, if you think its better to sit down and watch this a hole kill everybody like what happened in world war 2, mind as well just dismantle the military….

    • It’s time for us to stop playing World Cop. Let countries figure out their own problems. If they end up killing each other in the process, that’s their problem.

      We need to concentrate on our problems here at home and not worry about everyone else’s.

  • mongolberry

    War is not always the answer, I feel like they haven’t really given diplomacy a try in this situation. It shouldn’t be “strike first, talk later” every time.

    • TaKiere

      They haven’t struck yet have they?

  • Me3

    Going to war because the President makes an imaginary red line is not a reason to go to war. Slinging a few missiles and then being done to save face is not a reason to go to war. What is our policy? The problem is we don’t have one. The President does not have Europe’s support. Doesn’t that concern you? The President needs the approval of Congress. Both he and Biden said going to war without Congress is not the right thing to do. Biden said a President should be impeached if he goes to war without Congress. Is he going to impeach Obama? It is sad our President has shown over and over that he feels the rules do not apply to him.

  • mongolberry

    I am a liberal democrat and I voted for Obama, I usually agree with him but not this time. Even England, one of our best allies, has chosen not to get involved. Yes what they have done is horrible but horrible things are going on all around the world that we are not getting involved with, why choose this one?

    • Sailor12

      Who cares what Europe thinks they never want to do anything themselves anyway. They are cowards and so are the republicans.

      • mongolberry

        You obviously do not follow world politics.

  • Jeffrey Ranoco

    i really admire this qoute. We Are Ready to Go Like That. I hope one of this days this war ends. Let there be PEACE on earth