Sunday, November 20, 2005

Losing the Hearts and Minds

Our military isn't a Schutzstaffel or a Red Guard. It isn't trained that it was bred from birth for superiority in battle, or that it represents the vanguard of invincible revolution.

Our military is taught that the outcome of battle is always in doubt, but that personal excellence and total commitment is decisive.

This is not just stressed in training exercises and tests for promotion, but in the military culture. A reading of Medal of Honor citations shows a recurring large number of people honored with the nation's highest award for falling on a live grenade. The stories I've heard military personnel tell about previous wars are about servicemen who refused to quit, who carried on regardless of the cost to themselves personally, but whose seemingly unprofitable suffering enabled others to overcome.

When the political leadership refuses to recognize this truth about our military, and lets them know that their personal excellence is irrelevant to the predetermined outcome of the war, there is a marked drop in the performance of the US military. That's true of all armies, but in the US military the contrast is sharper and more widespread, and present both in the front lines and in "quiet" zones far from any war.

Seems like we've got too many people on Capitol Hill that forget this. There's no excuse for it, since the last demonstration is barely thirty years old. There's no excuse for it.

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