Military Families Want To Know End Game In Mind In Afghanistan

Thousands of San Diego Marines could be forced to leave their familes right after the holidays.

Tuesday night, President Obama is expected to unveil his strategy for Afghanistan by asking for 30,000 to 35,000 more troops. Some 3,000 San Diego-based Marines are already there. Camp Pendleton said it's prepared to send up to 10,000 more.

As they did in Fallujah, Iraq, San Diego Marines will no doubt figure prominently in the president's strategy for Afghanistan, but many want to hear that it's a strategy aimed at some point: at closure.

In some of the most high-tech training to date, Camp Pendleton Marines are being put through their paces for upcoming deployments with Afghanistan front and center on their radar.

At one time, Dawn O'Brien had three members of her immediate family in the Marines. "We have never ever had a war like this where parents are leaving their children three, four multiple times," O'Brien said. Still, she said she's torn. She doesn''t want a withdrawal but neither does she want an escalation.

From a deserted city in southern Afghanistan, a captain with 3rd Batallion 4th Marines from 29 Palms said more troops would make a difference.

"By bringing more forces in here and expanding our influence and making this area secure enough people will feel comfortable to move back into this part of town," the captain said.

Jan Ruhman isn't so sure.

Ruhman, who did two tours in Vietnam as a Marine, now belongs to the San Diego chapter of Veterans For Peace. Similar to the situation in Vietnam, Ruhman doesn't think there's a way out.

"I can't imagine that there's an end game except the same end game we had in Vietnam," he said, "that we won't win this. That we won't accomplish what we want to accomplish." Not as long as we're seen as occupiers, he said.

Dawn O'Brien, whose son-in-law will probably head for Afghanistan, wants to know -- from Tuesday's announcement -- that the president has an end game in mind.

"There has to be an end game," she said. "Our military can not substantiate another couple of years of this they can not unless we go to a draft."

Both said that only one per cent of the American people have "skin in the game." That is, someone directly involved in the military.