Monday, May 02, 2005

Some Things Are Just Worth Fighting For

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting piece today regarding current reinlistment patterns:

It is a glance at one of the most unexpected developments of the war in Iraq. Even as the conflict drags on, undermining recruiting efforts and testing the patience of the nation, American soldiers are so far continuing to reenlist at levels that surprise the Pentagon and pundits alike. To the head of the National Guard, this is the legacy of America's "next greatest generation": a band of soldiers more sophisticated than any before in history, which has been asked to adapt to a new style of warfare and often serve multiple tours - all as a volunteer force.

At a time when Army soldiers are under international scrutiny for roadside shootings and prison abuse, comparisons to the generation that landed on the shores of Normandy might seem curious, but they are more than mere rhetoric, analysts say. The American soldier's commitment to the cause in Iraq and Afghanistan has been historic and decisive, allowing the United States at least a measure of success in an engagement for which it was not prepared.

While I don't necessarilly agree that the United States was "unprepared" for the engagement, I will agree that the events of September 11th, 2001 caught us completely by suprise. That being said, it is my personal belief that our armed forces responded with a speed, skill and determination seldom, if ever, seen in the annals of warfare.


"To compare our generation to the World War II demographic would be grossly misleading," says Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution.

But the task of this generation of soldiers, he says, is "every bit as demanding, and they're doing it as volunteers."

What is perhaps most significant is that they continue to volunteer. In a normal year, the Army National Guard expects 18 percent of its soldiers to leave because of retirement, injury, and death, or because they do not reenlist. This year, the attrition rate is only 18.9 percent. Meanwhile, reenlistment rates for the Army and Marines are either exceeding goals or are within a few percentage points of them. Some data even show that reenlistment rates are higher for units deployed overseas than for those that have remained at home.

In some ways, this is the first prolonged test of the all- volunteer military, so experts didn't know what to expect. But clearly, the response has exceeded expectations. "It's a little bit surprising, frankly," says Mr. Donnelly.

It may be surprising to the people who run the numbers and compile reinlistment statistics, but it shouldn't be surprising at all. Our military is chock full of professional men and women who put it all on the line to further this little experiment we like to call Freedom. They do it because they want to do it, they believe in the mission, and want to see it to it's successful conclusion. They have seen a yearning for freedom in the eyes of those who have been woefully lacking in it
and have responded by putting their lives on the line in order to provide it for them.

They also understand something that the mainstream media never will:

There are still some things worth fighting for and worth dying for. They may never get it, but I do, and I salute you!

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