Morale has always been an important part of gauging the readiness of any army from ancient times to the present. It is a winning element in any engagement. When a strong unit has lost the will to win, they often do lose to inferior forces.
Unfortunately, it seems that our military today suffers from a loss of morale.
A study conducted by the military shows that half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about the future and are unhappy with the present state of affairs.1 This has happened despite a $287 million campaign to bring morale up through what can be termed, “happiness programs.” These programs have simply not worked.
Sagging morals would be more understandable if the troops were conscripted and the military was unpopular. However, the U.S. military today is an all-volunteer force that is highly respected by most every American. Many of those who joined were highly motivated because of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thus, idealistic citizens willingly joined the ranks to fight an enemy that was already at our doorstep, with one foot inside the room.
What has happened in the last fourteen years to cause such a tectonic shift in morale from those first days of fervor against the enemy? Most likely, it is something similar to what the men who fought in Vietnam faced.
Back then, our troops would fight tooth and nail to take a well-fortified hill from a well-entrenched enemy. The fighting was intense, with great losses to men and equipment. Finally, the hill would be taken. Then, the soldiers would be ordered to retreat.
Today, morale cannot help but be sapped by seeing the hard-earned gains in Iraq wasted by a policy of defeat. In such cases, the price of morale isn’t measured in dollars or government programs. Morale is a hard-earned commodity acquired through the camaraderie and esprit de corps that comes from suffering through battles waged with the intent of destroying the enemy.
If the Department of Defense would like to solve the decline of morale in the military it should not focus on ineffectual “happiness programs,” but on letting our military do what it does best, destroying the enemy in an overwhelming show of shock and awe.