I know, I know... I'm resurrecting an almost-dead thread. I apologize in advance, but there were a few points I wanted to make in response to some posts by Surfcitydogdad and a few others weeks and weeks ago, but haven't had the time and mental energy to author a coherent, thoughtful post until now. So you'll forgive me bringing up an old arguement, because I hope to add something new.
quote: Desert Rat makes a good point; once soldiers are committed to battle, it's about self-preservation, not ideology.
But draftees - as the US had from the War Between the States thru the undeclared war in Vietnam - and draftees of other nations - don't want to be there and may not be supportive of the mission objective, but are driven only by self-preservation (as evidenced by the mass surrender of Iraqi forces who didn't want to die for a brutal dictator).
I mention this merely because I want to dispel a common misconception many have on the nature of the art of combat--there is no such thing as purely self-preservation. The idea of self-preservation in combat ended eons ago, when the concept of one-on-one combat itself ended. Soldiers now fight, maneuever, and execute all critical actions as units--each soldier is not an autonomous being, but rather simply one component of a greater organism. You could almost look at individual troops as "organs" and "cells" in a larger body, with this body's ability to maneuever, fight, win, and survive on the battlefield fully dependent on the full effort, exertion, and performance of each of its organs.
Conversely, if one organ fails... the whole body fails. And every organ dies.
Such is the case on the battlefield. Be it a company of infantrymen maneuevering in the forest, or thousands of sailors "fighting the ship" in the Persian Gulf... no one soldier has to capability or capacity to ensure his own survival through his own efforts. It cannot be done-- left purely to self-preservation, that soldier will die. But as part of a unit... that soldier's actions can be the key contributing factor to the success or failure of a unit, and its' members survival or death on the battlefield.
That is why the services try to instill such a strong devotion to, and emphasis on, teamwork... because no individual can suceed on his own, but a single individual can ensure death for himself and everyone around him.
That is why I fail to understand the shortsighted selfishness of soldiers who won't contribute to the fight... ultimately, by foresaking those around you, you are only inceasing the likelihood of your own death. By supporting those around you, regardless of how much you may hate the service and don't agree with being there, you are increasing the likelihood of your individual surivival. Group survival is individual survival. There are no loners in combat.
So if I ever seem a little harsh (okay, VERY harsh) on shirkers, deserters, and dirtbags in general... it's because they CAN'T just walk away from it all and be done with it. By failing to do their part, they are having a detrimental effect on unit performance and, ultimately, ****ing over their fellow servicemembers.
Even if I passionately, ardently, vehemently opposed the Iraq war, I would still go (as most who feel that way do), and I would still give 110%... because my presence and actions may mean the difference between life and death for my fellow Marines. And THAT is a far more important committment than any politics or external issues.
quote: I think it was Desert Rat who wrote of his pledge to uphold the US Constitution; the problem is that the President and most members of Congress do not uphold their promise to do the same, and send you off to fight conflicts that are either questionable or even counter-productive to preserving peace at home. Observe that the war in Iraq has boosted recruitment of terrorists, and a civil war is now being waged there. For how many years will you be subject to deployment in that quagmire?
To this I will offer a "Yes, BUT..."
Assume for the purposes of this arguement that I agree with everything you said above concerning Iraq (which, in their hearts, I'm sure more than a few servicemembers do)... it ultimately doesn't matter. Unless I have been given an order that is clearly unlawful, niether I nor anyone else in uniform get to pick our battles.
Why is this? Should the military suddenly be allowed to pick and choose which wars it fights, the military would no longer be implementing policy, it would be making policy. And that cuts straight to heart of the whole idea of "civilian control of the military," setting a dangerous precedent.
As the system is now, do we run the risk of having the occasional dangerous dumbass civilian leader sending us into the wrong war the wrong way?
Yes, we do. It's an imperfect system.
But FAR more dangerous, I feel, is the risk of long-term degradation to our democratic institutions if the military suddenly started calling the shots over our elected officials.
The risks inherent with "less than stellar civilian leadership" are FAR less terrifying to me than the risk of military control over policy. Surfcitydogdad, as a professed libertarian, I will be very surprised if you disagree with me on that item.
Anyhoo, just wanted to elucidate my viewpoint a bit, to give you all a better idea of where I'm coming from.
-------------------- High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler Posts: 3402 | From: New Bern, NC | Registered: May 2004
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I am not a supporter of the Iraq war, but I do support the voluntary armed forces. I agree that soldiers fight for each other, to insure the survival as a whole, and on balance, to maintain the respect of their comrades as well. Glad to see that spirit is instilled in our armed forces.
S.L.A. Marshall has been criticized before on his view about U.S. soldiers engaging the enemy. I don't have any new information on this. I think that this sort of statistic is overused just like the "we only use 10 % of brain" line.
-------------------- Blinded by the lite Posts: 89 | From: West Virginia | Registered: Jan 2006
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