Building on the link to Instapundit below, I want to address a post made by David Adesnik, at Oxblog. David links to a New York Times piece written by a disillusioned soldier, and wonders if he represents the true views of the troops. A relevant portion of the post:
Purely from anecdotal experience, American soldiers are very
disillusioned. From high ranking officers to grunts, they are incredibly
cynical (especially for Americans) about why they are there, hate being
there and take advantage of every opportunity they can to tell journalists
this, and that they want to go home.
This is quite possibly true. However, it is not the same thing as the "Iraq is a disaster" that we have been hearing from the media since May, nor is it a repudiation of what we intended. It is a reminder that military people (especially reservists) are frustrated when the timetable for exiting keeps shifting, and they end up spending long periods away from their family. The media, however, push this (and similar quotes) as justification for their cries of "quagmire" and "Vietnam redux".
My personal take on this: We had to call up reservists to fight a single-theater war, proof positive that we need to expand the size of the military. The projections dating from the late 80s and early 90s (at the height of the drawdown), were off-base and overly optimistic. They took into account the force necessary to accomplish half the task (defeating the Iraqi military), but failed to take into account the whole cleanup procedure, which is far more lengthy and nervewracking. This is the fundamental flaw in the Iraq situation, not the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld "callous disregard for our troops" trope the left has been tossing around more frequently.
Most of the more vociferous complaints (including the one I quoted above), are from reservists. Most people who join the reserves are not expecting a protracted deployment far from home. Many don't expect to deploy at all (other than for a two-week period), and a year-long deployment is not what these people expected. Some are losing a significant portion of their income, while the bills continue to come in.
We need to rethink the structure of the military, and after retooling it, increase its size so that the next time we have to deal with a tin-plated dictator, we can do it with the active duty troops, rather than relying on reservists. The reserves should only be used in cases where an expanded military needs to be augmented (or where we are attacked by another force in another location), not one where they are essential to our effort in the primary theater.
I emphasize that this is my personal opinion, and add that I am not some bigwig with all the facts at my disposal. However, I do understand the morale issue, and know from firsthand experience how hard deployments can be, especially for those with families.
posted on September 22, 2003 04:26 AM