False claims undermining U.S. troops

W. Thomas Smith, Jr
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Posted: Jan 29, 2007 12:00 AM
False claims undermining U.S. troops

A joint statement issued by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), on the evening of President Bush’s State of the Union address, says, “The OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans, MILITARY LEADERS, and a bipartisan coalition in Congress oppose the President's plan to escalate the war.”

Not that the president plans to escalate the war, but instead wants to rework our efforts in Iraq by reinforcing and realigning our ground forces. We’ll save that for another discussion. For now, let’s keep in mind the reference to “overwhelming majority” of “military leaders,” because it’s clever how they included “military leaders” in the list without any supporting facts that an “overwhelming majority” of those leaders oppose any plan.

Surely it was obvious to Pelosi, Reid, and their writers that by placing the term second in the series, it could easily be perceived by readers that an “overwhelming majority” of “military leaders” oppose a plan by the president. Yet if called to present hard numbers to support the so-called “overwhelming majority,” Pelosi and Reid could easily deny they were referring to “military leaders,” only to “Americans.” Oh so slick.

Then there was Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) who, in his televised rebuttal to the president’s address, said, the MAJORITY of OUR MILITARY “no longer supports the way this war is being fought.” Webb’s comments were probably based on a recent poll of active-duty subscribers to the independent Military Times newspapers.

But in the comments by both Webb and the Nan-Harry tagteam, a definite “majority” is both flat wrong and a dangerous attempt to sway the thinking – thus undermine the morale – of our combat forces in the field.

Of course, this is nothing new: Recent Pelosi soundbites include such gems as “there is no success …” and “The policy and the practice is not making the American people safer … .” Then there is Reid’s latest line before the National Press Club: “The United States forces have been given an impossible mission;” and my favorite posturing-snippet from the Nan-Harry tagteam which said, “Congress will not ignore this president’s failed policy.” (Don’t forget: Though Dems seem to love to posture after their own election victories, many of them damned the remarkable Iraqi elections with cynical, faint praise.)

Yet the Dems still continue to qualify many of their statements with something along the lines of “but we support the troops.”

How can anyone honestly say they support the troops when they make false claims that a majority of both military leaders and the rank-and-file no longer support what their organization is doing, particularly when the majority does?

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway said, “Though the troops in the operating forces are being pushed hard by the operational tempo and the frequency of deployments, morale has never been higher, because they believe they are making a difference.”

Granted, that may be a difficult concept for Pelosi and Reid to grasp. Obviously and understandably they have no frame of reference as regards to the fluid dynamics of warfighting (Imagine either of those two flying a jet, carrying a rifle, or leading combat troops.). But Webb, a former Marine infantry officer, should know better. And Gen. Conway’s comments may be proven-out by the numbers of his Marines who voluntarily remain in service when they have the opportunity to leave.

As I stated in my latest piece at National Review Online, “Marines have far-exceeded all retention {reenlistment] goals for the past six years, and have already achieved 82 percent of their goal for Fiscal Year 07, and there are eight more months remaining in FY07.”

For FY06, Marines who were eligible for reenlistment for the first time (having just completed one hitch in the Corps) re-upped at 102 percent of the Corps’ goal. Older, more-seasoned, career Marines – those who have reenlisted previously – re-upped at 114 percent of the Corps’ goal.

What’s even more interesting is that those Marines tasked with some of the most dangerous missions like fighting as Marine riflemen or driving trucks in ambush-vulnerable convoys, re-upped in numbers that not only exceeded the Corps’ goals for FY06; but the overwhelming number of those Marines had already been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once, and most more than once. So contrary to what the Dems would have us believe, those volunteer Marines are not brainwashed high schoolers. They’ve been to war. They know the score.

Army retention figures are also high: And like the Marines, those goals have been met and exceeded since before September 11, 2001 with the highest percentages of reenlistments being recorded annually since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Fact is, the majority of the combatants on the ground in Iraq believe in the mission and the overall direction of that mission. They want the mission to succeed. They believe it will. They are sacrificing and re-sacrificing. They are willing to see the war through to completion. And to suggest that those combatants are so brainwashed and loyal that they would remain aboard a sinking ship – as some of my Dem friends like to suggest – is both condescending and baseless.

There are serious problems with the Iraq war; there is no question about that. But make no mistake, if our efforts in Iraq were truly void of success, a “disaster,” a “failure,” and “an impossible mission” – as so many Dems have said – the ones doing the fighting and suffering the most would not be nearly as eager to reenlist. The American military is sticking with the fight. Pelosi and her crowd should stick with the facts.