The other night, I had a drink with two of the soldiers who collectively wrote a New York Times Op-Ed piece, published in August.
What struck me in our conversation was that these two soldiers were not completely disillusioned with the Army or with the difficult type of warfare that Iraq forced on them. One of them had recently been promoted and plans to stay in the Army; the other admitted that he wanted to go back to Iraq. They hope to write, with other soldiers, a book about counterinsurgency that would examine the Army’s new field manual against their experience fighting the complex array of warring factions in Iraq -- not to refute it but to improve it. In short, they’re exactly the sort of soldiers the Army needs to keep.
I wonder how long their precious knowledge will be valued by a military and a country that already show signs of wanting to consign Iraq to the memory hole where, three decades ago, Vietnam disappeared.
Also, from last month:
If innovative officers see that their innovations are not valued, they'll either conform or leave.
From a year ago:
... emergency measures have taken a heavy toll on ... the career decisions of some of the Army’s most promising young officers.
And from even farther back:
Bearing "true faith" to the Constitution requires military personnel to speak out, regardless of the cost, when they think our civilian leaders have gone beyond the pale. Both our democracy and the lives of the soldiers who fight in our name depend on it. If officers remain silent when our military policies go terribly wrong, there's little the rest of us can do to set things right again.
Dulce et Decorum