Been there, done that: After 13 years of war, troops feel burned out and without a sense of mission. More doubt their leaders and their job security.
A Military Times survey of 2,300 active-duty troops found morale indicators on the decline in nearly every aspect of military life. Troops report significantly lower overall job satisfaction, diminished respect for their superiors, and a declining interest in re-enlistment now compared to just five years ago.
Today's service members say they feel underpaid, under-equipped and under-appreciated, the survey data show. After 13 years of war, the all-volunteer military is entering an era fraught with uncertainty and a growing sense that the force has been left adrift.
One trend to emerge from the annual Military Times survey is "that the mission mattered more to the military than to the civilian," said Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University who studies the military. "For the civilian world, it might have been easier to psychologically move on and say, 'Well, we are cutting our losses.' But the military feels very differently. Those losses have names and faces attached to [them]."
"The mission matters more to the military than to the civilian." Gee, do ya think?
Those of us who endured the Vietnam debacle know all about this. Our sense of purposelessness came from our understanding that the war was just a political football and that our leaders did not have the will to win. We could see what was coming -- that the soldiers who died there would have died for nothing -- and, believe it or not, it sort of pissed us off.
The soldiers are feeling the same way today because they know they have a commander in chief who does not like them or their culture and has no goal in play or in mind requring a strong, ready military. If you've aimed your whole presidency at diminishing the role of the U.S. on the world stage (quite effectively, alas), having a weak military is in fact part of the plan.
It occurs to me that I've not commented on the outgoing defense secretary or on the new ones waiting in the wings. And I won't now, because their's no point. Whoever's ther will be carrying out Obama policy, so it doesn't really matter who it is.
Since we're on military matters, I don't think the Obama administration should be hammered for the failed rescue attempt that resulted in the death of an Amercan hostage. It was the right thing to do. I'm sorry it didn't work, but I'm glad we tried.