Iraq

Losing the Troops in Iraq

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With an Iraq troop surge likely on the horizon, it isn't just the Senate who don't seem to be thrilled with Bush's whole approach to Iraq:

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

The account from the Seattle Times goes on to report that "only 41 percent of the military now say the United States should have gone to war in Iraq, down from 65 percent in 2003." It also gives this caveat as to how much this result reflects the opinion of the military as a whole:

The Military Times survey, conducted by mail Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty military subscribers to the newspapers. Results are not representative of the military as a whole. The survey's respondents, 945 this year, are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.

Still, this is more bad news for Bush's war, whose "surge" will likely prove more "good lives after bad" than that final added expenditure that makes the whole investment pay off.

NEXT: Great Saddam's Ghost!

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  1. Has anyone done a scientific poll of all American servicemen (servicepeople? servicepersons?)? Someone should, I’d like to know what they think on a range of political questions, and how far they differ from americans as a whole.

  2. Results are not representative of the military as a whole. The survey’s respondents, 945 this year, are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.

    I.e. the ones who know what they’re talking about.

  3. Good. Maybe some of these dumbasses joining the military will think twice. I have no sympathy for the troops. They’re paid well, fed, their whole families are taken care of, for Christs’s sake. They knew what they were getting into. If enough potential troops realize that the military is a bad idea, then waging these “wars” simply won’t be possible any more, without a draft. Fuck the troops.

  4. I.e. Not the enlisted guys and girls (who aren’t officers cuz they don’t have a fucking useless B.S. in English) who will bear the brunt of the work and the deaths.

  5. The Defense Department does not allow polls or surveys to be taken on military bases, where most personnel live and work, so we can only speculate, citizengnat.
    I think the average GI Joe or Jane is even less likely to approve of how the war is going than the career officers who cared enough to respond by mail.

  6. I have no sympathy for the troops. They’re paid well

    Dear God. How abysmal is your salary, that you look at the average military paycheck and think “that looks good”?

  7. Here’s the particulars on how the poll was conducted, since the STimes only touched on some of the details. From Military Times Polls”

    “On Nov. 13, we mailed question naires to 6,000 people drawn at random from our list of active-duty subscribers.

    Recipients were asked to mail their answers to an independent firm that machine-tabulated the results to guarantee anonymity. We stopped processing incoming questionnaires Dec. 22.

    About 4,000 of the 6,000 people who received questionnaires turned out to be on active duty.

    Only responses from active-duty personnel were tabulated. Of those 4,000, 954 responded.

    The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval, meaning there is a 95 percent probability that results of the poll are accurate within 3 percentage points.

    Those polled differ from the military as a whole in important ways. They tend to be older, higher in rank and more career-oriented.

    Even so, it is perhaps the most representative independent sample possible because of the inherent challenges in polling service members, according to polling experts and military sociologists.

    The annual poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional career military.”

  8. It may be the best poll possible, but it’s an admittedly very limited poll.

  9. Why do experienced military personnel hate America?

  10. “I have no sympathy for the troops. They’re paid well

    Dear God. How abysmal is your salary, that you look at the average military paycheck and think “that looks good”?”

    Jennifer,

    The paycheck may be a little small, but soldiers also get pay that is not taxed while they are in the war zone, 30 days paid vacation, health insurance for the soldier and his / her family, plus enlistment bonuses and college tuition.

    I was recently laid off because my boss cashed in and closed his business. Speaking as an owner of my own company, I would say the deals our soldiers are getting are pretty sweet.

    Right now, I’m trying to set a billing rate per hour to accomodate what I had as an employee and it is very hard considering the taxes you have to pay as self employed not to mention insurances (Professional Liability + Medical + General Liability + Car, etc.) and paying for your time off.

    Some people would say making $60 / hr is a lot of money, but it really shrinks when the government and insurance gets their cuts.

  11. “The paycheck may be a little small, but soldiers also get pay that is not taxed while they are in the war zone, 30 days paid vacation, health insurance for the soldier and his / her family, plus enlistment bonuses and college tuition.”

    Not to mention not-too-shabby food and housing allowances. And extra pay while in war zones (plus the non-taxability that cliff mentioned), extra compensation for dependents, etc. Being in the military definitely has its financial rewards. You’ll never get rich off the pay, but unless you’re a dumbass and manage to piss all your money away you’ll live very comfortably. The trade-off, of course, is the fact that you’re the government’s bitch for as long as your contract stipulates (and longer, sometimes).

    If enough potential troops realize that the military is a bad idea, then waging these “wars” simply won’t be possible any more, without a draft.

    The military in itself isn’t a “bad idea.” Some of the conflicts in which our leaders choose to engage us are bad ideas, but absent the endless quagmires the military is actually not a bad way to go.

    Fuck the troops

    Right back at ya, asswipe. There may be a lot of dumbasses in the military, but few match your ignorance, or your pernicious attitude.

  12. Cliff, my dad was career military (Navy). He did okay because he was a nuclear guy paid magnificent bonuses to re-enlist every few ears. For non-nukes, military pay is excellent if you’re a Catholic with ten kids and need health insurance for them all (try getting insurance for a wife and ten kids on a non-CEO salary in the private sector). The insurance is also good if you have a small family but one of your dependents suffers severe and expensive health problems. The thirty days paid vacation is also better than what you’re likely to get in the private sector. But not counting vacation time and insurance for huge families, military pay is only good if you assume that the only civilian job you can get pays minimum wage or just above it.

    Which is likely true for a lot of our cannon fodder, but by no means all of it.

  13. Good. Maybe some of these dumbasses joining the military will think twice. I have no sympathy for the troops.

    Apparently, you’re not the only one who feels that way.

  14. Larry
    “Results are not representative of the military as a whole. . . I.e. the ones who know what they’re talking about.”

    Well, the point remains that the numbers don’t reflect the military as a whole, and so the whole thing seems a little misleading.

    And for officers being the ones who know more, well yes, that’s true, but it also needs to be taken in context. Officers are also more likely to have formed specific biases that reflect more of their personal political views, and not so much their view on actual warfighting efficacy. (One such bias is to prefer veterans for office regardless of their actual ideology or competency.)

    They are also more likely to be the bureaucrats, pencil pushers if you will, of the military. The average ground and pound unit in the heat of things consists overwhelmingly of enlisted personnel.

    Why does that matter? Because if someone released a poll showing that more commissioned officers were supporting W’s planning, you’d be the first to say “Oh yeah!? Wont’cha ask the boots on the ground?! They’re the ones that count.”

  15. Jennifer;
    . . . “military pay is only good if you assume that the only civilian job you can get pays minimum wage or just above it.

    Which is likely true for a lot of our cannon fodder, but by no means all of it.”

    Actually, there is quite a bit of data to prove that wrong, but seeing your poisonous attitude on the subject, I don’t suspect you’ll be bothering with any facts on the issue.

  16. I.e. Not the enlisted guys and girls (who aren’t officers cuz they don’t have a fucking useless B.S. in English) who will bear the brunt of the work and the deaths.

    If I’m not mistaken second lieutenants suffer extremely high combat casualty rates. If not the highest in both the Army and Marine Corps, in fact, then very close.

  17. Aargh, another “approve or disapprove” poll that skips the major issue of why they disapprove. Is it because 1) they think we should leave now or should never have invaded? Or is it that 2) they want to fight harder than the current rules of engagement allow? That’s a rather crucial difference. I’m sure it’s a mix of both, but the poll is being reported as if all disapproval is due to #1.

  18. Those who survive, then, are probably not only older but, I suspect, very much wiser.

  19. Even with the pay and benefits, the Army had to lower standards and raise bonuses to attract recruits. What I’ve heard lately really concerns me. I know that one road to US citizenship is enlisting in the military. However, the Army is now actively recruiting out of the country to get enlistees, is there any truth to this?

  20. “Or is it that 2) they want to fight harder than the current rules of engagement allow?”

    From the guys that I’ve talked to personally, it’s #2. One guy in particular, tells the story of capturing two snipers that had taken shots at his platoon. All the soliders did was zip-tie their hands and take them back to their command. The terrorists immediately launched into what seemed a well rehearsed story of physical abuse, and the whole platoon was put under investigation.

    My anecdotal evidence of the dozen or so Marines and soliders I know easily outweighs an obviously flawed, and purposely skewed non-scientific poll.

  21. Cliff:
    “However, the Army is now actively recruiting out of the country to get enlistees, is there any truth to this?”

    No, that is absurd. Quit hanging out at “those” websites.

    And what specific standards were lowered by the way?

  22. Isaac:
    “If I’m not mistaken second lieutenants suffer extremely high combat casualty rates. If not the highest in both the Army and Marine Corps, in fact, then very close.”

    I’m a former Marine, and I’ve never heard that in my life. I’d be glad to double check the website you picked that up from though, and give you some feedback.

    Where’d you get that at?

  23. However, the Army is now actively recruiting out of the country to get enlistees, is there any truth to this?

    Probably not, since according to at least one recent report, recruiters are rejecting illegal alien applicants in spite of the fact that current law requires them to accept all qualified applicants.

    This is reminiscent of the days of the draft when even wetbacks were inducted. The reasoning was that if you were in the country you were obliged to defend it.

  24. better wording:

    “….recruiters are rejecting alien applicants of questionable status in spite of the fact that current law requires them to accept all qualified applicants regardless of legal immigration status.

  25. “qualified applicants regardless of legal immigration status.”

    Umm, that would be a non-sequitur.

  26. Jeebus, These comments could be from on of the lefty/traitor boards.
    Military has a long tradition of recruiting foreign nationals.
    Without even looking it up I’d guess the military pays quite well-above average even-for a new high school grad with no prior skills/significant work experience.Junior Officer pay is certainly competitive with recent college graduate pay-and you don’t have the student loans.Throw in the perks benefits housing food and the disproportionate numbers of troops from rural areas without many competitive paying jobs.

    Not to mention Duty Honor Country Sevice Sacrifice Challenge and all that other red State Fundy Jingoisitic Right Wing Nut Job stuff those snake handlin’ Hillbilles are into besides guns and extreme off road vehicles.

  27. Oh, that’s another thing I forgot mention. They took this poll from their subscriber list.

    1) A tiny minority of active duty personnel actually read military newspapers and magazines on a regular/subscription basis. Most of their subscriptions are for the offices, just like trade journals in the private sector.

    2) I’m not up on the MilTimes editorial content, but they did choose to run the big editorial condenming President Bush before the last elections.

    There’s a certain kind of lifer-wonk that does subscribe to the various mil magazines and papers, and they are definitely not representative of the military as a whole. Add to that, if the MilTimes editorial content is of a certain flavor, then they will of course attract like readers.

  28. Ray G

    I have no source, it is simply something I heard mainly of Viet Nam era service. If it is not true I take it back and stand corrected.

    Umm, that would be a non-sequitur.

    No it would not be. Legal immigration status has nothing to do with eligibility to serve. As I said in the days of the draft all residents, legal or otherwise, were inducted when found. If you were in the country and of draft age you went in the service or you went to jail, period. That is unless you were physically or mentally unfit.

  29. There’s also the reoccurring theme here of the willfully ignorant that only the poor jobless souls are enlisting.

    Anyone who has actually served knows better, but there are a number of studies to back this up as well.

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/wm922.cfm

  30. further correction:

    That is unless you were physically or mentally unfit or had some other exemption. If you were in the country illegally and physically or mentally unfit you would have been deported, if, however you were fit you would have belonged to Uncle Sam for the duration.

    There’s also the reoccurring theme here of the willfully ignorant that only the poor jobless souls are enlisting.

    I’d venture to say that very few at this site buy that particular myth. I don’t, anyway.

  31. Isaac;
    The only “high moratlity rate” that I remember hearing that transcends differing eras is that of the machine gunner. Who was typically a lowly E3 or E4.

    I doubt that the military is taking illegal aliens right now.

    I know that this is a loose forum, and I really don’t want to get in to a data war, but things like that should be backed up. No offense.

    And besides, this is a libertarian website. We’re all for the illegals, right? I don’t think it would be a bad idea to have someone work their citizenship off – so to speak – via the military, combat or not.

    I know in our country’s history, the govt has often used its own needs to coincide with the illegals. In the 19th century, much of the frontier was essentially given away to illegals, if they’d go settle it. They got the franchise that way as well.

  32. “There’s also the reoccurring theme here of the willfully ignorant that only the poor jobless souls are enlisting.

    I’d venture to say that very few at this site buy that particular myth. I don’t, anyway.”

    Scroll back and read. . .

  33. I doubt that the military is taking illegal aliens right now.

    Where did I say they were. But that does not change the fact that the law says they can, and in fact are required to.

    …I really don’t want to get in to a data war,…

    Nor I.

    …but things like that should be backed up.

    As you say, “…this is a loose forum,…”. It strikes me that impressions may be thrown out for consideration. I state, you contradict. I accept your superior knowledge or I reject your fatuous ignorance, as the case may be.

    As I said in the case of Second Lieutenants’ casualty rates, if I am wrong I stand corrected.

  34. And part of me is just pissed off at the mentality that keeps saying “we could just win this thing if it weren’t for all them collidge boy officers and their fancy educations getting in the way of us real fighting men who know what needs to be done.”

    Take that for what it is worth.

  35. Because if someone released a poll showing that more commissioned officers were supporting W’s planning…

    How could they support something that never existed?

  36. Yeah, the military pays well, sweet, awesome and all those other words used to describe it. That’s why everybody’s rushing to sign up, ’cause the pay is so awesome. Also, the pay is always on time, the VA would never arbitrarily deny a wounded soldier benefits, and I hear the home life of a Marine grunt is great.

  37. So, I was going to post a comment about how it is a voluntary job and whatever compensation they get (monetary, self satisfaction, benefits, whatever) was obviously worth it when they joined up. Then I got to thinking about how it seems to be a particularly hazardous job, and wondering how it might compare to other jobs we don’t think much about. You know, folks like to talk up police, fireman, soldiers, as heros protecting us. No one talks about the poor fisherman who went overboard trying to get you your crab. Anyway, I looked up some numbers and was surprised to find that even during wartime the death rate for soldiers wasn’t so bad compared with other dangerous jobs. If anyone’s interested; for 2004 …

    The death rate for active duty was 92/100K and for active + reserves was 76/100K

    for loggers 92/100K
    for aricraft pilots 92/100K
    for fisherman 86/100k

    So, that’s kind of interesting. Anyone willing to call a logger a ‘hero’ for helping you build your house? Seems a bit more worthwhile than trying to democratize Iraq, anyway.

  38. once again, generalizing a large organization is hopelessly useless. grunts are paid crap. officers are paid well. officers are resented for their good pay and their education. whatever.

    the only guy in my office who served in the military was an IT guy in the army for about 20-30 years or so right out of college. he was making about $50K or so at the end. the thing is – he continues to make nice money from the military now that he’s “retired” at age 50 – and has a new career as an IT guy here. consequently, he is the only guy in the office making more per year than the boss and driving a lexus. i don’t think he ever fired a weapon. he did spend a lot of time in the hellacious warzone of the italian med coast.

    in short: being in the military can really suck. it can also be quite a sweet deal.

  39. Putting more troops in Iraq for fear it will fall is like having a choice between two roads that lead the same way, one is a half of a mile long, is in good condition and leads directly to the destination the other being 30 miles long, unpaved and has hundreds of broken down cars on the side of the road with landmines on the road every 10 feet, leaving now would be taking the straight road and increasing troops would be like taking the dangerous one because you fear that it could become more dangerous.

    The fallacy of logic of course is that even if the second road does become more dangerous, we still have the option of the straight short road. Why needlessly endanger our troops? They can’t protect us when they are dead.

  40. Downstater,
    “grunts are paid crap. officers are paid well. officers are resented for their good pay and their education.”
    While enlisted certainly make less than officers, when compared to what they could make on the outside, the officers are getting the raw deal in terms of pay. An E-4 infantryman, 3 years of service, stationed at Ft. Hood makes about $38,000 (if he lives off post). This is pretty good for a 21-22 year old with only a high school education. An 0-3 JAG, 4 years in, at Ft. Hood (i.e. me) gets about $67k. My friends back at my old law firm are making over $200k. Similarly, a general officer in charge of a division might make 140,000 or so, but when compared to the equivalent civilian job (CEO of a 15,000 employee company), his pay sucks ass. Not complaining though- I knew what I was getting when I signed up and it’s worth it.

  41. Adam,

    i’m more than willing to agree that military pay is not always as good as private sector pay (especially in professional capacities like JAG). yet even then, it’s a small minority of attorneys who are pulling down 200K.

    my only point was that the military is quite diverse in the amount/fairness of its pay and to say that the military is well-paid or underpaid, etc. is a huge generalization.

    fwiw, i’m a law student now, though i’ve been working in the post-college professional world of family, mortgages, etc. for about 6 years – so i’m not some kid straight from undergrad with no concept of the working world. and i’ve gotta tell ya, if i had the chance to make 200K and decided to make 67K in JAG (do you travel as much as normal military?) i think my wife would have a heart attack, die and kill me – in no particular order! ha!

    i commend you though, as the work sounds interesting. i’m sure it’s as glamourous as the tv series!

  42. For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

    My guess is a lot of the military’s dissatisfaction stems from the candy-ass rules of engagement, combined with a similar refusal to fight this war like we mean it in the strategic theater (i.e., giving Syria and Iran the go-ahead to serve as strategic safe havens and supply centers for our enemies).

    That is very different from opposing the war because you thought we should have left Saddam alone, and left the Middle East to continue as before.

  43. downstater,
    you’re right, most attorneys don’t make that much. i was lucky enough to go to a top school that feeds big nyc firms, and even got to make that much for a couple summers. i kinda had to go the JAG route since i took a rotc scholarship back in college (which makes up for some my losses financially). but it is interesting work (not quite like the tv show). i don’t know of any law firm that would have paid me to jump out of planes. yes, i’ve deployed if that’s what you mean by travel. JAGs deploy at nearly the rate of ‘normal’ military. it’s all worth it- i will have plenty of years when i’m older to make money.

  44. fantastic. travel=deploy. normal=non-jag. sorry for my abysmal grasp of military lingo.

    happy new year.

  45. They’re paid well, fed, their whole families are taken care of, for Christs’s sake.

    Have you looked at the statistics of military families on food stamps and other welfare programs… where are you getting your statistics? You could make the argument officers are paid well (though not in comparison to their skill level and education), but making such a claim for enlisted personnel is far fetched.

    I come from a long line of military men and the deterioration of pay/benefits is the main reason I didn’t follow… (then I idiotically chose education as a career).

  46. “They’re paid well, fed, their whole families are taken care of, for Christs’s sake.”

    Look at the pay as an hourly wage instead of a salary. How many hurs a week do you think a soilder in a combat zone “works”? Have you every been in a war? It is not possable to be compensated enough, unless your the 10% of crazy fuckers who likes it. Not to mention the fact that you are a captive for 12-18 months. No sex, not much drinking, no bed, horrible illneses, and it fucks with about 25% of veterens minds for the rest of there life. Then again during peacetime it is a pretty nice deal.

    “The death rate for active duty was 92/100K and for active + reserves was 76/100K”

    Overall-maybe, in Iraq-no way

    We have lost 750 men a year on average in Iraq. Average tour of duty is a year. Average “boat on the ground” is about 140k That makes the ratio 530/100K. Add to that many more times people who are seroiusly wounded. This ratio includes service support troops, IT guys, ect. Among troops in the field losses are much higher.

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