View Full Version : U.S. soldiers complain of low morale in Iraq

07-17-03, 05:43 AM
U.S. soldiers complain of low morale in Iraq

By Sue Pleming
7:23 a.m., July 16, 2003

WASHINGTON Fed up with being in Iraq and demoralized by their role as peacekeepers in a risky place, a group of U.S. soldiers aired their plight on U.S. television Wednesday and said they had lost faith in the Army.

Told several times they would be going home only to have their hopes dashed this week, a small group of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, spoke of poor morale and disillusionment with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask him for his resignation," one disgruntled soldier told ABC's "Good Morning America" show.

Asked by a reporter what his message would be for Rumsfeld, one said: "I would ask him why we are still here. I don't have any clue as to why we are still in Iraq."

About 146,000 U.S. troops are serving amid mounting security threats in postwar Iraq. The death toll has now equaled the number killed in the 1991 Gulf War.

Sgt. Filipe Vega, said they had expected to return home soon after the fall of Baghdad on April 9. "We were told the fastest way back home is through Baghdad and that's what we did. Now we are still here," he complained.

The 3rd Infantry Division was the first U.S. unit to enter Baghdad after driving through southern Iraq through Kuwait.

Sgt. Terry Gilmore described a phone call with his wife Stacey when he told her he would not be coming home soon.

"When I told her she started crying and I almost started crying. I just felt like my heart was broken. I could not figure out...how they could keep us here after they told us we were coming home."

In Washington, a Pentagon spokeswoman said she understood the frustration, but said morale was still high. "It's obviously a frustrating situation for some of them, but it does not represent the entire 3rd Division."

She added: "When you get down to the individual soldier level, you can clearly see the dedication."

The wives of two of the soldiers appeared on the same show. "Just send my husband home send all the soldiers home. They have done the job they were supposed to do," said Rhonda Vega from Hinesville, Georgia.

Stacey Gilmore said U.S. troops were ill-prepared for the post-war phase. "They were told after the fighting ended they were coming home. All I know is that morale is low and they are just hanging in there, sticking through it."




07-17-03, 07:00 AM
In Vietnam we knew we were there for the duration. We said goodby to our loved ones and promised to return, same time, next year.

Iraq was supposed to be an "in and out".

No reserve units were called up for Vietnam, as they were for Iraq.

I despise Clinton, from the time he was first running for the Presidency. If he were President now, the press would be all over his butt like white on rice. President Bush is getting a free ride.

"In and out" now sounds like a scene from an x-rated movie. And the moans and groans are getting louder and louder.

Sgt Sostand
07-17-03, 07:19 AM
Marines dont cry get the job done then go home the Military is no Boy Scout. Those Army Guys need to know that

07-17-03, 04:20 PM
When they were swore in, what were they thinking?

When talk of war was real, long before it happened, what were they thinking?

When they got there, and the sh*t started flying, what were they thinking?

They have had plenty of time and warnings of possibly extending their enlistment, and, or tour!

I'm not saying I don't understand them wanting out of there and to be back home. They have had plenty of time and warnings to think of all this! They represent our country! They need to grow up!

Like my ole man use to say, and like my Drill Instructor use to say, "Suck it up, boy! Deal with it!!

07-17-03, 11:40 PM
Maybe so, but the Army is big enough, that they could rotate other units in as replacements. Yes, it would be more costly in funding and possibly in casualties, but who knows what the future will bring? The Army needs all of their units to have combat experienced officers & NCO's IMO. There is no substitute for it. The only way they are going to achieve that is a rotational policy. These guys did all that was asked of them as far as I can tell-now it's time for the remf's to get some.

07-18-03, 03:28 PM
Pentagon retaliates against GIs who spoke out on TV

Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer

Fallujah, Iraq -- Morale is dipping pretty low among U.S. soldiers as they stew in Iraq's broiling heat, get shot at by an increasingly hostile population and get repeated orders to extend their tours of duty.

Ask any grunt standing guard on a 115-degree day what he or she thinks of the open-ended Iraq occupation, and you'll get an earful of colorful complaints.

But going public isn't always easy, as soldiers of the Army's Second Brigade, Third Infantry Division found out after "Good Morning America" aired their complaints.

The brigade's soldiers received word this week from the Pentagon that it was extending their stay, with a vague promise to send them home by September if the security situation allows. They've been away from home since September, and this week's announcement was the third time their mission has been extended.

It was bad news for the division's 12,000 homesick soldiers, who were at the forefront of the force that overthrew Saddam Hussein's government and moved into Baghdad in early April.

On Wednesday morning, when the ABC news show reported from Fallujah, where the division is based, the troops gave the reporters an earful. One soldier said he felt like he'd been "kicked in the guts, slapped in the face." Another demanded that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit.

The retaliation from Washington was swift.

"It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear.

Only two days before the ABC show, similarly bitter sentiments -- with no names attached -- were voiced in an anonymous e-mail circulating around the Internet, allegedly from "the soldiers of the Second Brigade, Third ID."

"Our morale is not high or even low," the letter said. "Our morale is nonexistent. We have been told twice that we were going home, and twice we have received a 'stop' movement to stay in Iraq."

The message, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, concluded: "Our men and women deserve to be treated like the heroes they are, not like farm animals. Our men and women deserve to see their loved ones again and deserve to come home."

After this one-two punch, it was perhaps natural that on Thursday, the same troops and officers who had been garrulous and outspoken in previous visits were quiet, and most declined to speak on the record. During a visit to Fallujah, a small city about 30 miles west of Baghdad, military officials expressed intense chagrin about the bad publicity. And they slammed the ABC reporters for focusing on the soldiers' criticism of Rumsfeld, Bush and other officials and implying that they are unwilling to carry out their mission.

"Soldiers have *****ed since the beginning of time," said Capt. James Brownlee, the public affairs officer for the Second Brigade. "That's part of being a soldier. They *****. But what does 'bad morale' really mean? That they're not combat-ready or loyal? Nobody here fits that definition."

The nervousness of the brass has a venerable history. It has long been a practice in American democracy that the military do not criticize the nation's civilian leaders, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur found out in 1951, when he criticized President Harry Truman's Korean War strategy -- and was promptly fired.

Yet several U.S. officers said privately that troop morale is indeed low. "The problem is not the heat," said one high-ranking officer. "Soldiers get used to that. The problem is getting orders to go home, so your wife gets all psyched about it, then getting them reversed, and then having the same process two more times."

In Baghdad, average soldiers from other Army brigades are eager to spill similar complaints.

"I'm not sure people in Washington really know what it's like here," said Corp. Todd Burchard as he stood on a street corner, sweating profusely and looking bored. "We'll keep doing our jobs as best as anyone can, but we shouldn't have to still be here in the first place."

Nearby, Pfc. Jason Ring stood next to his Humvee. "We liberated Iraq. Now the people here don't want us here, and guess what? We don't want to be here either," he said. "So why are we still here? Why don't they bring us home?"

E-mail Robert Collier at rcollier@sfchronicle.com.




07-18-03, 07:34 PM
lurchenstein and I talked about this over breakfast. Somebody needs to fire up the chain of command over there.

Sgt.s on the news, WORLD WIDE, complaining.... that's Bull Sewage. NCO's DON't do that.

What they need is a few F.F. games to keep them busy. Yea, they may get ****ed about the games, but that's why we played them, That's why the Plt Commander, Plt. Sgt, etc. played those games with us SOMETIMES.... keep our minds OFF the boredom.

Just an opinion.


07-19-03, 01:33 AM
#1. I don't think it is "boredom" that is getting them down.

"The problem is getting orders to go home, so your wife gets all psyched about it, then getting them reversed, and then having the same process two more times."

#2. "It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. At least six of us here will lose our careers."

"Somebody needs to fire up the chain of command over there. What they need is a few F.F. games. "

Low morale costs lives. It is the responsibility of every NCO and officer to do whatever it takes to maintain the highest morale level possible in the troops under him.

WWII had a duration "When it's over, over there."

Korea was essentially defensive, for political reasons, and the North Koreans called the shots. Therefore, few "political" promises" could realistically be expected to be kept.

Vietnam was "until the mission is accomplished", but tours were set at 13 months.

Other "actions" were proven to be short term in nature. Bosnia being an exception.

Iraq was promised to be "in and out". True, we got "in" faster than we thought we would, but the "out" is taking a hell of a lot longer.

(As an aside, the press is making a big thing about casualties "after" the war exceeding those incurred "during" the war. True. But casualties during the war were much less than expected, and what we are facing now is the continuation of a war that we declared "over" too soon.)

What's the answer? Hell, I forget the question.

07-19-03, 01:45 AM
Low morale costs lives. It is the responsibility of every NCO and officer to do whatever it takes to maintain the highest morale level possible in the troops under him.

Been wondering about this myself. Seeing the NCO's *****ing in public must weigh even more on the junior troops. Crap situation, but can't just walk away. If committed, make the best of the situation.

07-19-03, 09:09 AM
Devildogg4ever's article.....

Sound Off........
Tell us if GIs who complain on TV should be punished ?......

No, let them vent, what's the big deal?


Yes, it's damaging to discipline, duty, honor and esprit d'corps





07-19-03, 09:59 AM
One more point to mention...

With the troops, ESPECIALLY NCO's and higher, complaining and such to the news, it adds fuel to the

"left wing, tree hugging, pansywaisted, gayloving, rainbowwaving, peacenic, sh!tforbrains, .... (thinking of more)..... oh yhea, hippies and yuppies,"

that are driving this Country into the ground, to holler for us to leave and never should of been there.

HE!! yes.... article 15 their a$$.