Monday, June 04, 2007

Marine Morale Triumphs Over the Cut-and-Runners

"How are we supposed to fight a war when people back home say we've already lost?" ~Marine Lance Cpl. Jack Kessel

Though Marines in Iraq believe "they have begun to drive a wedge between the civilian populace and the insurgency in Al Anbar" they are growing increasingly weary of what's going on stateside. After speaking with quite a few Vietnam Veterans -they're upset too and hoping the troops won’t return home to the disdain and humiliation they endured.

Lucky for all of us here that (actually) support the troops along with the mission:

"So what is the effect on troop morale of declining public support for the war in Iraq and the increasingly contentious political debate at home? Like so much about modern military life, the answer may seem counterintuitive to civilians.

After my fifth trip to Iraq to report on Marines, I've concluded that, at least among Marines, morale remains high — high not despite the public's disaffection with the war but possibly because of it. The declining poll numbers and rising political upheaval appear to have driven Marines closer together.

Marines, for instance, continue to exceed their reenlistment goals; a recent study showed that those who have deployed twice to Iraq are more likely to reenlist again than those who have only gone once — and that the Marine least likely to reenlist is one who has not deployed to Iraq.

Whether the same spirit can be found among Army and National Guard troops is for others to determine. Their missions, histories and institutional cultures are different than the Marines. Young men join the Marines with the expectation — many even with the fervent hope — that they will deploy quickly to a war zone. That's not true for, say, the National Guard, and that kind of motivation doesn't waver with public opinion polls." (Read the entire article)

Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis told the Marines to believe their own eyes rather than news accounts on the issue of who is winning the war. Don't be discouraged by the politicians and pundits who haven't been to Iraq and don't understand, he said.

"Don't hold it against them," he said to Kessel and the others gathered at a base in Habbaniya. "The only reason they have that freedom of speech is because you'll fight for it."

Kessel nodded. "I understand now."

I often wonder if what Vietnam Vets came home to caused more them more psychological damage than what they went through in the jungles... Everytime I see one of those "witty" (not) "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam" shirts or stickers I cringe --hoping the freaky fringe doesn't work its evil on this crop of Veterans.

No comments: