A retired USMC colonel who is also a Democrat US representative from Pennsylvania paints a picture:
LATROBE, Pa. (AP) -- Most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth," Rep. John Murtha told a civic group.The members of the all-voluntary US Armed Forces as a set of duped victims scrounging for sustenance in the "wilds" of Iraq (and of Afghanistan); Colonel/Representative Murtha believes that this is who fights America’s wars right now and believes that this is how they are supported. That’s the image which Colonel Murtha and many members of his party seem to have fixed in their heads and wish for the public to visualize as well and accept as truth. But is it an accurate vision?
If Colonel Murtha is still beset by the idea of what the military was like during his own career, it’s no wonder he has such a low opinion of how the military takes care of its people and of the morale of its members. The bulk of Colonel Murtha’s career spanned the Vietnam years—the draft years--and their aftermath: the years in which unwilling draftees, drug addicts and small-time criminals feed a certain, deserved reputation of the military.
One of the reasons that most military members—even Democrats—revere the memory of Ronald Reagan is that when he became president, things began to dramatically change for the better. The aforementioned chaff was nearly totally weeded out and that particular president was able to tell military men and women what their mission was and was willing to back his words up with action: by giving those men and women the tools to accomplish that mission and by removing from their midst those who were unwilling to "lead, follow or get out of the way."
Regarding the eradication of drug addicts from the military: I was a young airman--only nine months in service and nine months after President Reagan became the Commander–in-Chief--when mandatory urinalysis was implemented and nearly all of the dope-heads were relieved from duty, busted down in rank and/or drummed out of the service. I saw units shut down (temporarily) rather than be operated with key positions manned by the dangerously impaired. Major John came in not long after I did and had a ring-side seat to the circus and to the transformation as well.
Ask any veteran who served between 1975-1982/3 what the Army (or the rest of the Armed Forces for that matter) were like. Drugs everywhere, low pay, morale was non-existent, equipment was falling behind or scarce, there was no great sense of mission or purpose. Only the heroic measures of a few dedicated officers and NCOs saved us from absolutely bottoming out. We needed the Reagan Era build up (hell, even Jimmy Carter, not the brightest or strongest to even stumble across the White House threshold, realized things had gone down too far, too fast, by the last two years of his miserable term in office) but almost as important, we got our elan back - we were told we mattered, we were the shield of liberty against Soviet totalitarianism.When I hear Colonel Murtha talk about a broken down, rag-tag American military that can’t even manage to properly feed, clothe and equip its personnel, I wonder whether he’s talking about 2005 or 1975.
However, should we listen to the retired colonel (or even to me, the retired NCO) or should we listen to those who, like Major John, have recently been on the receiving end of a supply line in a war zone?
…I served in Operation Enduring Freedom V (Afghanistan, March 2004-March 2005). We stood at the end of the longest sustained supply line in the history of human conflict. We were in war-torn Central Asia. Af-frickin'-ghanistan. We had decent food, e-mail, phone (OK, sometimes they weren't always working, but almost all the time) excellent medical support, good pay, regular (if slow) mail. We had a PXs at most of the larger bases, and coffee places sprang up too. We had so damned much ammunition that we needed to build a bigger ammunition supply point at Bagram, AF. We had so many vehicles that we were constantly squabbling over where to put them all - and we had enough up-armored ones too. Our supply warehouses were stuffed with clothing, boots, body armor and the like. "Living hand to mouth" is the worst lie of the bunch.Uncle Jimbo--posting at Blackfive--issues a call-to-arms, as it were, to getting the word out: the truth about the military, who its members are, how they live and what they believe about their superiors and about their mission.
Given the opportunity, the left/media would love to hang a loss or a tie on W and the whole idea of US military power. If they can create a loss in popular opinion they gain all of the casualties as martyrs to their belief that the employment of US power is fundamentally wrong. They already have pounded the meme that we are now handcuffed and unable to use military force against anyone else because we have exhausted the military and destroyed it's morale. That lie is put to rest as soon as these armchair pacifists are confronted by the swelling pride of those who have earned victory on the ground. They reenlist in record numbers and they come home to tell the truth about their good works, ignored by the defeatist press that owes the truth but delivers only the death and destruction. [SNIP]Greyhawk’s brainchild, MilBlogs and Milblogging feauture hundreds of blogs authored by military personnel. Some are veterans like myself; however, the vast majority are active duty in Iraq right now. There are critics of the war among them—the idea that all members of the military would have the same opinion and subscribe to the same ideologies is laughable to anyone in the know—but I dare anyone to find some GI among them who has voiced a legitimate need and found it not addressed. Horse's mouth and all that.
Someone has to stand up and say BULLS**T!, and here we are. The rise of the milblogs is the best antidote to the poison spread by the left/media, but we have to raise up and make sure everyone hears. The troops will start coming home next year, not because we were forced to admit that not one more should die for a lost cause, but because we won. That message must dominate and we have an election cycle to do just that. The left/media will have a challenge to maintain this fiction of defeat as the troops enjoy parades all summer and when interviewed talk about the schools they built and the wells they dug. But they need our help, and that means everyone. Many readers here also write and every voice adds to the message, but we also must directly oppose those who oppose the truth. Newspapers, TV stations and all media must be taken to task for defeat-mongering and failure to show the positive.
As a bonus, watch FoxNews tonight. Of all the mainstream media outlets, FoxNews has lead the way in counteracting the defeatist image that certain (most) other Big Media outlets and some members of our legislative branch of government seem intent on inserting in the minds of the public. Tonight “Winning in Iraq: The Untold Story” will be broadcast at 6PM PST, featuring the “stars” of this drama, peace-loving Iraqi people themselves. Those who believe that FoxNews is hopelessly right-wing probably will skip it, but I challenge fair-minded people to take a look.
Should we believe the words of a retired military colonel, sixteen years out of his commission, who was one of the presiding officers of a military that was indeed “broken and worn out?” Or should we believe the present-day members of the strongest and most motivated armed forces in history who are reenlisting in droves (as of July 2005)?
Sgt. 1st Class Edwin Allbaugh, a member of the 75th Ordnance Company in Michigan, said he re-enlisted because his job makes a difference and "I work with a great group of guys." Allbaugh's unit, which disarms and destroys improvised bombs, is about to deploy to the Middle East.1st Lt. Rusten D. Currie:
This war is indeed different. It is not Tripoli, or Luzon, it is not reminiscent of Foy, or Gettysburg, it is not Berlin, or Tokyo. It is towns that yet again we didn’t know existed before we got here. It is towns that we still can not easily pronounce. It is specs on the ground where history was born, it is a place where far too many of our young have grown old beyond their years. It is a place where far too many of us paid for freedom with blood. It is a place where my faith in God and humanity have been shattered. It is a place where my faith in God and humanity have been reaffirmed. It is a place where I come to grips with my own life, and the possibility of my end. Yet, despite it all and despite world opinion it is a place where I have found the faith to believe in something that I am willing to fight to the death to defend. To the agnostic, or the atheist here there is more at stake. To the agnostic and atheist this life is all there is, so to be willing to risk it all, to be willing to die for our way of life to me that is just huge. I really want to believe, and despite it all I falter. Yet despite it all I…we are holding the line, and more importantly we are crossing said line, and pushing back with all that we have, so that those of you at home don’t have to sleep with one eye open.Choose wisely.
UPDATE: Mark Steyn:
If the reaction to Murtha's remarks by my military readers is anything to go by, he ought to be grateful they're still bogged down in Iraq and not in the congressional parking lot. [SNIP]
These sad hollow men may yet get their way -- which is to say they may succeed in persuading the American people that a remarkable victory in the Middle East is in fact a humiliating defeat. It would be an incredible achievement.