dwindles for soldiers in Iraq
The worst problem
facing U.S. forces in Iraq may not be guerilla warfare but a crisis
of morale. Recently, the government funded military newspaper Stars
and Stripes reported that A third of U.S. troops surveyed
in Iraq said their morale was low and half stated that they are
unlikely to stay in the armed forces.
Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez made a statement to the paper after
the release of the report, There is no morale problem.
Congress also has a differing opinion than the Stars and Stripes.
Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., visited Iraq for two days and met with
troops of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky.,
and reported that morale was high. However, I believe that the administration
gets a rose colored glasses view of the occupation because
the people they are allowed to talk to are hand picked by officials.
I think we all have a rose colored glasses view when
it comes to the situation and living conditions in Iraq. In October
of 2003, military officials stated that 11 Army soldiers and three
Marines had committed suicide in Iraq. The Navy is currently investigating
one possible suicide. These numbers are above average for military
suicides. The Army has sent a mental health team to Iraq and has
since sent 478 soldiers home from Iraq for mental health issues.
I do not doubt that morale is low for many in Iraq. Some soldiers
have been there since the beginning of operations almost a year
ago, away from home, family and a normal life. Who could
blame them for not being in the best of spirits during this time
of conflict? No one has the right to hold any military or administrative
official accountable for a low morale. It should be
Media coverage is also to blame as a source of low morale for soldiers
in Iraq. Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
have accused the media of largely ignoring progress
while dwelling on problems. And with the Presidential Election race
of 2004 up and running, many politicians and their supporters openly
opposed to the war have been accused of also being unsupportive
and against the troops. Many say they simply oppose
the war but support the troops. I do believe this to be the leading
contradictory statement of the decade. I do not find it possible
for someone to support troops who are fighting for a cause, but
disagree with the cause.
I think the condition of morale among our troops is to be expected,
neither classified as high or low, but what could best be anticipated
to come out of such circumstances while honorably fulfilling their
duty to their country. I have read all the reports and statements
and I now find myself attempting to evaluate the situation. But
in the end, I dont think any top official or citizen here
at home is capable of doing that. We could never imagine the training
they went through to prepare and the stress they encounter every
Cooksley is a freshman political science major from Texas City.