Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This Bears Repeating

The Armorer has this up over at the H&I Fires today. It is excellent and bears repeating. I've reprinted most of it here because it's a site that you have to register for and even though it's free, it's a pain. You can follow the link in the headline to read the whole thing. I have emphasized what I thought was most important in the last few paragraphs.

In Iraq, semper fidelis
Despite the public's waning support for the war, Marines' morale remains high.
By Tony Perry,
TONY PERRY is a staff writer for The Times
June 3, 2007

UNDER A sweltering Iraqi sky, the general asked for questions from his troops. Many were reluctant, but one stepped forward.
Marine Lance Cpl. Jack Kessel, 19, of Raleigh, N.C., asked about something that had been gnawing at him as he and his buddies go about the dangerous business of winning hearts and minds in Al Anbar province.
"How are we supposed to fight a war when people back home say we've already lost?" he asked.
It was a question that Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis had anticipated as he toured Marine outposts in the sprawling province that is the home of the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq. After four years of war — and nearly 900 Marines killed and 8,000 wounded — many Marines believe they have begun to drive a wedge between the civilian populace and the insurgency in Al Anbar.
Many of the Marines were the sons of Marines or soldiers who had fought in Vietnam. They had grown up hearing tales — real or apocryphal — of returning veterans being scorned. There seemed to be a palpable fear among the Marines that the same fate might await them if the public changed its mind about the mission.
Instead, something different happened. As support for the war waned, support for the troops increased. A tidal wave of paperback books, goodie boxes of candies and other things and banners done by schoolchildren has engulfed the troops. At Christmastime, so many stockings and presents arrived for the troops that the loot had to be distributed to Iraqi children to keep it from clogging warehouse space.
It's a point that Mattis, the commanding general of Marine Forces Central Command, made repeatedly as he talked recently to troops.
"There's a lot of dissent about the war, but there's zero dissension about the troops," he said. He used the example of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), possibly President Bush's most ardent opponent on the war but also the most aggressive member of Congress in getting money for a safer combat vehicle.
Mattis told the Marines to believe their own eyes rather than news accounts on the issue of who is winning the war. Don't be discouraged by the politicians and pundits who haven't been to Iraq and don't understand, he said.
Don't hold it against them," he said to Kessel and the others gathered at a base in Habbaniya. "The only reason they have that freedom of speech is because you'll fight for it."

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