Thursday, October 08, 2009

Morale Plummets Among Soldiers in Afghanistan 

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, the chaplains told The Times in their makeshift chapel on this fortress-like base in a dusty, brown valley southwest of Kabul.

“The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

“They feel they are risking their lives for progress that’s hard to discern,” said Captain Sam Rico, of the Division’s 4-25 Field Artillery Battalion. “They are tired, strained, confused and just want to get through.” The chaplains said that they were speaking out because the men could not.

That's a direct result, in my view, of the lack of resolve, decisiveness, and leadership coming from the White House. If the trumpet sounds uncertain, who will answer the call?

That said, the selection of soldiers who go see the chaplain isn't always representative of the military as a whole. Soldiers who speak to the chaplain about morale problems are naturally the ones with morale problems.

But you can bet dollars to doughnuts that these chaplains are in a position to assess the delta - the change, in morale - and if the chaplains in two separate battalions are concerned enough to take the extraordinary step of speaking to the media about it, then Houston, we've got a problem.

This can be turned around, though. The morale problems on the ground simply reflect the morale problems at home. And if Congress is questioning the mission, and the folks back home are questioning the mission, and the White House is questioning the mission, but none of them our paying the price... it's only the US soldier, sailor and Marine on the ground shedding blood every day for a mission the President can't be bothered to sell (too busy trying to enrich Mayor Daley and the rest of the Chicago mob with the Olympics), well, to quote Rudyard Kipling,

Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool, you be that Tommy sees!

Splash, out


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