Dear Mr. President… why morale is low.
Before I begin, as a professional soldier, let me ask that we don't engage in subterfuge. Don't accuse me of being unwilling to do my duty, I am willing. Don't accuse me of playing politics, when the lives of my men are involved, I don't play games.
I wanted to share with you some reasons why morale might be low, they are as follows:
In conclusion, let me add, Mr. Public Servant, that we are bleeding and dying out here, lots of men (several thousand so far) have been wounded and many have been killed. As soldiers, we will do our duty but I believe there is a requirement that it be in line with defending the Constitution of the United States of America. While I clearly see the mission in Afghanistan (and against the terrorist scum like them), the mission in Iraq is becoming increasingly less relevant.
- Pathetic pay. I am an NCO with 14 years in who decided to return to duty after a 10 year absence. For the privilege of going to a god-forsaken hellhole to risk my life, I had to take a reduction in grade all the way back to E-5 or Buck Sergeant. I discovered that as a Sergeant with over 15 years service, I earn approximately $2,184 a month plus "benefits". For those not good at math, let me share that this equals to a little less than the average WalMart employee earns and a lot less if you factor in the long hours (much more than 40 a week, let me tell you). I wonder how many mid level managers with 15 years of experience get paid this poorly.
- Un-necessarily harsh living conditions. I've slept in the mud, that is when I had the chance to sleep on various operations. I've gotten by on less than a "meal" a day, humped rucksacks that weighed over 100 pounds and a whole lot worse than that. It was part of the job at the time, there wasn't anything better available.
But when better conditions were available, they were offered to us and we gladly took them. There are far too many reports of troops living like animals in hellish conditions while pampered officers live in air conditioned billets. To make the situation even more intolerable, these officers seem to be busy engaged in handing one another stacks of medals and awards they frankly don't deserve. Particularly egregious are the "end of the month" warriors that show up in the sandbox at the end of the month and leave two days later… just enough to draw two months combat pay. Don't think that when we dog faced enlisted men look at our officers with chests full of medals, drawing much higher wages and avoiding hardships that we have even the remotest amount of respect for you; we don't.
- Medals and Ribbons. Giving Jessica Lynch the Bronze Star wasn't exactly what we in the grunts would call a bright idea. The Bronze is supposed to be for exemplary action in combat. After reading the reviews (the real reviews, not the PC trash put out by the New York Times), we discover that PFC Lynch was in a HummVee that crashed into the back of another vehicle and suffered massive injuries. She never fired her weapon. I believe that the appropriate medals are the Purple Heart and the POW Medal. We also remember during Desert Storm the 50 Bronze Stars given to Air Force personnel who never even left the States.
- Family matters. Believe it or not, many of us, especially reservists, had the insolence and temerity to actually get married and have families. I realize that our families are a distraction and a hindrance to your objectives, but that's the reality of the situation. Here's another clue, being gone from our families for extended periods of time is a hardship. The $250 extra you give us a month for being separated from them doesn't exactly compensate for this. While it beats a sharp stick in the eye, it isn't exactly adequate compensation. Considering that most of us are taking at least a 50% cut in pay, in addition to living like animals for a year, you might come up with a little more reasonable figure (adding a zero on the end might be a good start).
- The Truth. How about telling the truth to all of us regarding this war. It seems pretty apparent to me that we aren't going to find any WMD's and the paranoid conspiracy theories you advance for their sudden disappearance aren't convincing anybody except perhaps the boneheads that talked you into this mess. May I suggest a firing squad for those who lied to you and got several hundred of our men killed?
Perhaps if you came clean and either admitted you knew or that you were hoodwinked, we might put our heads together and figure a way out of this mess. Sure there will be a political price to pay but that's why you make the big bucks. I wouldn't worry too much though either, after all, look at Clinton, he got away with a whole lot worse.
- Al Qaeda, Taliban, and Osama. While we were involved into this Neocon foray into Iraq, the aforementioned scum were able to gather inside Pakistan in major training bases, recruit more members and begin attacking into Afghanistan again. My SF friends tell me they number somewhere around 50,000 and are pretty slippery fish.
These are the folks who attacked us in the first place (please stop with the duplicitous attempts at "linkage" between Osama and Hussein, one is a secularist dictator and the other is an Islamic nutjob). How about we pull out of Iraq, let the UN and all the "do good" organizations in the world patch up the bullet holes and sucking chest wounds and head to Afghanistan. I'm with you all the way on the Afghan thing, I'll be right on the front lines eating Pork patties and fragging Taliban terrorists.
A soldier and the State Chairman, Constitution Party of Texas
3 September 2003
Al Lorentz is a Fundamentalist Christian and the State Chairman of the Constitution Party of Texas
Al Lorentz's Bio.
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