21. November 2005 · Comments Off on Among Those at War, Morale Remains Strong, for Now · Categories: GWOT, Iraq, Military

This from Tom Shanker at the NYTimes:

But in interviews conducted by The New York Times in recent months with more than 200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines stationed around the world, the sense emerged that the war had not broken the military – but that civilian leaders should not think for a moment that that could not happen.


While an overwhelming majority of those interviewed said their units had high morale and understood their mission, they expressed frustrations about long and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those deployments present the most significant problem for these troops, who were interviewed during a military correspondent’s travels in the war zone and around the world.

Even among those who have done tours in Iraq, most soldiers who were interviewed said they were willing to wait and see, at least through another yearlong rotation, before passing judgment. The December vote on a new Iraqi government and efforts to train local security forces offer at least the prospect of reductions in the American force by next summer.

But few wanted to talk about what would happen if, come next year or especially the year beyond, the military commitment to Iraq remained undiminished.

A growing percentage of ground troops are in Iraq or Afghanistan for a second or third tour. The Third Infantry Division, which led the drive to Baghdad in 2003, returned to Iraq this year with 65 percent of its troops having served previous tours.

Many of those returning to the combat zone said the latest tours were different. Bases in Iraq and Afghanistan show the money spent on infrastructure and recreation facilities. The hot food, air-conditioning, Internet facilities and giant gymnasium offered at major bases bolster morale in ways that may not be wholly understood by someone who has not just come off a dusty, dangerous patrol.


One indicator that military morale remains strong is the numbers of those who re-enlist while deployed.

“Our retention numbers are so high that it’s almost bizarre,” Rear Adm. Pete Daly, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11, said aboard the Nimitz while under way in the Persian Gulf.

Perhaps it is because, as many service members said, decisions about whether to continue with the military life are made not on the basis of what Congress or the president says, but out of the bond of loyalty they have come to share with their comrades in arms.

That does not help the military much when it comes to attracting new recruits. Troublesome questions about the cause in Iraq may be felt more severely among would-be troops than among those already in the military.

Many in uniform say it is the job of the nation’s political leaders to communicate the importance of the mission and the need for national sacrifice to a new generation of soldiers.

And then we have moonbats like this, condemning us for building “permanent” facilities in Iraq – with the obligatory PNAC reference. (Scroll down for my response.)

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