April 30, 2004


Andrew Sullivan linked to an article from an embedded reporter in Fallujah. The relevant bit comes at the end:

Well, it's surprising, to be honest. ... I have spoken to a lot [of Marines] who have been engaged in some of these firefights. In fact, I was in one of the combat surgical rooms where they were working on a couple of these guys.

Two of them had been ambushed, not where the main fight is going on tonight, but their unit had been ambushed east of Fallujah. And seven people rolled in. There were two that had gunshot wounds. And they pulled a huge slug, a bullet, out of the leg of one of the Marines. And another one had a bullet wound right through the back.

And, amazingly, they were trying to convince their commanders that they were ready to go and go back out. I have been really surprised at ... the high degree of morale that these Marines have shown. Remember, they have only been here for a month and a half. Many of these units that are here now engaged in the initial invasion last year and were in Iraq for several months.

Now they're back. But they seem to be engaged. They're taking casualties. But it's really surprising. You don't see much head-dragging or anything like that. I mean, you know, what you see is kind of more encouragement for these guys.

And, for example, the one who had the gravest -- the bullet in and out through his back -- was trying to convince his commander that he'd be back. And his commander actually promised him that his spot was still going to be there. Another soldier who was injured in that huge firefight yesterday who I spoke to earlier this morning, he wanted to get back out there. But the only problem was, was that half his shoulder was missing around his firing arm.

But he was convinced he would be able to sit there on a roof and not have to run anywhere and he could contribute that way. So it's been surprising. But ... the Marines that are here certainly appear to be geared up for whatever the future holds.

One of Sullivan's readers makes a simple point:

The line that struck me as most interesting in that piece from the embedded CNN reporter is near the end where he writes 'So it’s been surprising'. I would love for him to further explain why he finds the actions & attitudes of these men 'surprising'. I would take a guess & say that this is this man's first exposure to our men in the military.
I was an Army brat from the day I was born until I was halfway through college, and my father was an Airborne ranger most of those years. This reporter's observations of our soldiers don't surprise me at all. Anyone who has spent anytime around our soldiers would not have expected anything different. These men take their code and their duty seriously. The fact that the reporter is 'surprised' I think reveals more than anything his (and no doubt a significant number of media people's) disconnect from what most people know, either first hand or instinctively, about our military personnel. We have the best military known to mankind and one of the primary reasons is the simplest one: The people who are in it.

Once I got my taste of military life, I never wanted to live any other way. Having taught soldiers, I never want to teach anyone but. I decided this morning that if my husband ever decides to separate from the military, I will require that we live near a military post so I can continue to work with soldiers. Once you see the caliber person the military fosters, you never want anything less.

Posted by Sarah at April 30, 2004 10:11 AM

Such a military must be a powerful force. Speaking for myself, I emigrated from Italy in part to avoid the draft there. Now before you get the wrong impression - the draft in the Italian army is nothing like a serious army. You spend 10 months doing push-ups, saluting everyone in sight and trying to avoid buggery and/or battery by larger conscripts, and then get chucked back out into civilian life, a full accademic year behind your peers who bought a doctor's note. That sort of military experience I do not regret missing out on... but if I stay in the UK I may yet join some sort of reserve force.

Posted by: Dominic at April 30, 2004 11:29 AM