October 17, 2003
What the troops REALLY think

We have been hearing from the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen in Iraq through second-hand information and occassionally through a military blogger, but most of the reporting on Iraq is through the prism of civilian reporters, who (in some cases) cannot relate to what the troops are really thinking.

Stars and Stripes, the quasi-official paper of the military, decided to cut out the middlemen and talk directly to the troops. They had a lengthy questionnaire which was distributed to troops serving in Iraq. Over 2000 people responded, and S&S is running a week-long series on the results of the questionnaire. Today's installment is day three, detailing life in Iraq. The previous segments were entitled "The Troops Speak" and "What Defines Morale". I'm not going to tell you any of the stats; I'll let the articles do that instead.

A caveat: a majority of the responses are from army personnel; the Air Force limited access to the questionnaire, although they did allow face-to-face interviews with the troops. (Which is odd, because most people agree that the Air Force has the better facilities, especially compared to the spartan conditions of the smallest Army facilities). They are few marines and sailors in Iraq, so they are thinly represented. This article has more background on the demographics and methodology of the survey.

UPDATE: This is *not* the story to which Instapundit linked; it is the original poll, on the Stripes website. The article does not note something that is pointed out in the original series—a majority of the seriously disgruntled troops are reservists, rather than active duty. This is not to denigrate the contributions of the reservists, but it does highlight that they are not happy with the long deployments and the family separation that they were not expecting. It is another reason to strongly consider increasing the size and scope of the military, should we ever find ourselves in the same position again.

posted on October 17, 2003 05:45 AM


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