Why They Fight: Combat Motivation In The
With the recent lightning swift combat successes
of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, there may be a tendency to view with
awe the lethality of U.S. technology and training. Indeed, the U.S.
military is unmatched in the raw combat power it is capable of unleashing
in a conflict. This monograph, however, argues that the true strength
of America's military might lies not in its hardware or high-tech
equipment, but in its soldiers.
Dr. Leonard Wong and his colleagues traveled to
Iraq to see what motivated soldiers to continue in battle, to face
extreme danger, and to risk their lives in accomplishing the mission.
As a means of comparison, they began by interviewing Iraqi Regular
Army prisoners of war to examine their combat motivation and unit
dynamics. The researchers then interviewed U.S. combat troops fresh
from the fields of battle to examine their views.
What they found was that today's U.S. soldiers,
much like soldiers of the past, fight for each other. Unit cohesion
is alive and well in today's Army. Yet, Dr. Wong and his fellow
researchers also found that soldiers cited ideological reasons such
as liberation, freedom, and democracy as important factors in combat
Today's soldiers trust each other, they trust
their leaders, they trust the Army, and they also understand the
moral dimensions of war. This year marks the 30th anniversary of
the all-volunteer Army. This monograph is a celebration of the success
of that radical idea and the transformation of the U.S. Army from
a demoralized draft army, to a struggling all-volunteer force, to
a truly professional Army. The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased
to offer this study of the American soldier to the national defense
community as policymakers continue to chart the course of the Army's
DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE, JR.
Strategic Studies Institute
Since World War II, studies have argued and conventional
wisdom has claimed that soldiers fight for each other. Cohesion,
or the bonds between soldiers, traditionally has been posited as
the primary motivation for soldiers in combat. Recent studies, however,
have questioned the effects of cohesion on unit performance. This
monograph reviews the combat motivation literature and then analyzes
findings from interviews conducted during the recent Iraq War.
By examining the perspectives of Iraqi Regular
Army prisoners of war, U.S. troops, and embedded media, the monograph
argues that unit cohesion is indeed a primary combat motivation.
The report also notes that, contrary to previous studies of U.S.
soldiers, notions of freedom, democracy, and liberty were also voiced
by soldiers as key factors in combat motivation. The monograph concludes
that soldiers continue to fight for each other, but today's soldiers
are also sophisticated enough to grasp the moral concepts of war.
The report suggests that this is a result of the transformation
of the Army from a fledgling all-volunteer experiment to a truly
WHY THEY FIGHT: COMBAT MOTIVATION IN THE IRAQ
Four brave men who do not know each other will
not dare to
attack a lion. Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure
of their reliability and consequently of mutual aid, will attack
resolutely.1 -- Ardant du Picq, 1870
This monograph seeks to answer the question: Why
do soldiers fight? It begins with a historical overview of the combat
motivation literature and examines studies from World War II, Korea,
and Vietnam. It then shifts to the recent Iraq War and analyzes
the results of interviews with Iraqi Regular Army prisoners of war,
U.S. combat troops, and embedded media. The varied perspectives
combine to show the critical importance of unit cohesion in combat
motivation but also highlight how today's soldiers are different
from U.S. soldiers of the past.
Why Do Soldiers Fight?
The motivations of America's conscripted soldiers
was a growing concern during the early stages of World War II, as
the Army ranks swelled with freshly drafted soldiers. As Kansas
newspaper editor William Allen White noted, soldiers of a draft
army "haven't the slightest enthusiasm for this war or this
cause. They aren't grouchy, they are not mutinous, they just don't
give a tinker's dam."2 After noting
the ineffectiveness of prepared lectures read to bored troops, Chief
of Staff of the Army General George C. Marshall brought in movie
producer Frank Capra and told him to make a movie that would "explain
to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles
for which we are fighting."3 Critics
claimed that there were more important things to do, but Marshall
insisted on men motivated and knowledgeable about the democratic
cause. The seven-part Why We Fight film series resulted and was
widely used during World War II.4 The
riveting film series emphasized that the war was not "just
a war against Axis villainy, but for liberty, equality, and security."5
After World War II, a series of studies emerged
that examined the motivation of soldiers during combat--to determine
why a "tired, cold, muddy rifleman goes forward with the bitter
dryness of fear in his mouth into the mortar bursts and machine-gun
fire of a determined enemy."6 Was
it for ideological reasons as suggested by the Why We Fight series?
In his widely acclaimed work, The American Soldier,
Samuel Stouffer documented the attitudes of World War II combat
infantrymen. When soldiers were asked what kept them going during
the war, the most common response was getting the war over so that
they could go home. The second most common response and the primary
combat motivation, however, referred to the strong group ties that
developed during combat.7 When asked
about sources of support during combat, responses concerning loyalty
to one's buddies and the notion "that you couldn't let the
other men down" were second only to the number of combat soldiers
who said they were helped by prayer.8
Despite the Why We Fight films, Stouffer's study argued that ideology,
patriotism, or fighting for the cause were not major factors in
combat motivation for World War II soldiers. Cohesion, or the emotional
bonds between soldiers, appeared to be the primary factor in combat
Historian S. L. A. Marshall reinforced the importance
of the bonds between soldiers in his examination of World War II
infantrymen in Men Against Fire. He noted, "I hold it to be
one of the simplest truths of war that the thing which enables an
infantry soldier to keep going with his weapons is the near presence
or the presumed presence of a comrade...He is sustained by his fellows
primarily and by his weapons secondarily."9
As for fighting for a cause, Marshall wrote, "Men do not fight
for a cause but because they do not want to let their comrades down."10
In another landmark study on combat motivation,
Shils and Janowitz interviewed Wehrmacht prisoners in an attempt
to determine why some continued to fight so determinedly despite
the overwhelmingly obvious evidence that Germany would lose the
war. Testing the belief that good soldiers were those who clearly
understood the political and moral implications of what was at stake,
they concluded that the behavior and attitudes of infantrymen who
fought to the end derived, instead, from the interpersonal relationships
within the primary group (although they did note an allegiance to
Hitler as a secondary motivation.) From their research, they concluded
When the individual's immediate group, and its
supporting formations, met his basic organic needs, offered him
affection and esteem from both officers and comrades, supplied
him with a sense of power and adequately regulated his relations
with authority, the element of self-concern in battle, which would
lead to disruption of the effective functioning of his primary
group, was minimized.11
The emphasis on unit cohesion as the primary source
of combat motivation continued into the Korean War. Sociologist
Roger Little observed a rifle company in combat for several months
and found that the bonded relationships between men in combat--what
he called "buddy relations"--were critical to basic survival.12
To Little, buddy relations could refer to a specific soldier or
the entire unit. During the Vietnam War, noted military sociologist
Charles Moskos interviewed soldiers and concluded that combat primary
group ties serve an important role in unit effectiveness. Interestingly,
Moskos argued that the close bonds with other soldiers may be a
result of self-interested concern for personal safety rather than
an altruistic concern for fellow soldiers.13
Regardless, Moskos reinforced the critical role of cohesion in combat
Despite the wide acceptance of the importance
of interpersonal relationships between soldiers in combat,14
things began to change in the later stages of the Vietnam War. In
their controversial book, Crisis in Command, Gabriel and Savage
claimed that the individual replacement system in Vietnam and the
lack of professionalism in the officer corps led to the dissolution
of primary group cohesion in the Army. While their conclusions about
the causes of the decline of cohesion can be questioned, they did
bring attention to a potentially deleterious effect of cohesion--fragging.
They pointed out that cohesion between soldiers without the proper
norms can work against organizational goals as in the case of nearly
800 cases of fragging in Vietnam.15
More recently, cohesion in the military has been
addressed by several critical studies that go beyond highlighting
the potentially detrimental effects of cohesion and instead challenge
the correlation of unit cohesion with performance. Interestingly,
the subject of many of these studies is not cohesion, but the current
Department of Defense (DoD) policy on homosexual conduct. The current
policy assumes that, "The presence in the armed forces of persons
who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts
would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale,
good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence
of military capability [emphasis added]."16
Arguing that unit cohesion is not critical to military capability
supports efforts to change the DoD policy. To this end, researchers
such as Elizabeth Kier examined the cohesion literature and concluded
that "fifty years of research in several disciplines has failed
to uncover persuasive evidence...that there is a causal relationship
leading from primary group cohesion to military effectiveness."17
In a 1993 RAND report, Robert MacCoun argued that
actually two types of cohesion exist. According to MacCoun, social
cohesion refers to the quality of the bonds of friendship and emotional
closeness among unit members--the type of cohesion referred to by
the post-World War II studies. Task cohesion, on the other hand,
refers to the commitment among unit members to accomplish a task
that requires the collective efforts of the unit. MacCoun argued
that task cohesion is correlated with unit performance, not social
cohesion. Social cohesion, according to MacCoun, has little relationship
to performance, and can even interfere with unit performance (e.g.,
rate busting, groupthink, or fragging).18
MacCoun's arguments are echoed by Segal and Kestnbaum who stated
that, "There is no clear causal link that can be demonstrated
using rigorous methods between social cohesion and high levels of
Despite an emerging debate about cohesion occurring
in the academic realm, it is tempting to believe that it has little
relevance in the Army policy arena. Three factors suggest otherwise.
First, the homosexual conduct policy assumes that unit cohesion
is essential to military capability. Determining the role of cohesion
in combat motivation helps inform that policy debate.
Second, the Army is pushing ahead with the Unit
Manning Initiative that rests on the premise that "full-spectrum
forces must be highly cohesive teams whose shared experiences and
intensive training enable them to perform better in combat."20
As the 172nd Infantry Brigade transforms to a Stryker Brigade Combat
Team and implements a unit manning personnel system, its soldiers
will arrive and train together through a standard 36-month tour.
If cohesion is truly unimportant to unit performance as recent critics
suggest, then the Army is putting an abundance of resources into
a radical change that may produce a modicum of results.
Finally, discussions at the DoD level have been
exploring the difference between task and social cohesion and which
has the biggest impact on the military. One view maintains that
the Services already do a good job of getting people who "don't
like one another" to work well together, so social cohesion
may be unnecessary. Given that the academic debate concerning cohesion
has moved into the policy arena, an exploration of cohesion--specifically
social cohesion -- and the broader topic of combat motivation, is
This monograph analyzes motivation and cohesion
in combat. The backdrop for analysis was Operation IRAQI FREEDOM
with major combat operations occurring roughly from March 20, 2003,
to May 1, 2003. To examine the concepts of combat motivation and
cohesion, views were solicited from three distinct samples that
experienced combat during IRAQI FREEDOM.
The first sample consisted of Iraqi Regular Army
soldiers. The combat motivation of Iraqi soldiers was analyzed through
interviews with enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) held at Camp Bucca
at Umm Qasr, Iraq.21 Nearly all of
the EPWs questioned were lower enlisted Iraqi soldiers; two officers,
a lieutenant colonel and a lieutenant, were also interviewed. Only
two soldiers, both sergeants, claimed membership in a Republican
Guard or Special Republican Guard unit. In this sample, then, views
probably represent rank-and-file soldiers, rather than elite units
or senior leaders. The researchers conducted, recorded, translated,
and transcribed over 30 interviews, using a structured interview
To gain the U.S. perspective, researchers met
with troops assigned to the maneuver units of the three U.S. divisions
conducting the majority of combat operations--the 3rd Infantry Division,
the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and the 1st Marine Division.23
Researchers conducted interviews at unit locations in the vicinity
o Baghdad and Al Hillah prior to the official cessation of major
combat operations. They conducted, recorded, and transcribed over
40 interviews.24 The same structured
interview format was used with both Iraqi EPWs and U.S. troops--thus
providing a good comparison and contrast of issues across both armies.
Embedded media represent the third sample used
to analyze cohesion and motivation in combat. They furnished a unique
perspective on cohesion and combat motivation for two reasons. First,
they were able to comment on small unit dynamics without being a
part of the small unit. Second, prior to the war, much discussion
concerned the embedded media needing to avoid developing emotional
relationships with unit soldiers in order to remain objective journalists.
The personal reflections of the media's experience help to explore
the role of cohesion in combat. Over a dozen members of the media
embedded in U.S. Army ground units were interviewed in person or
telephonically, or responded to an email questionnaire.
Motivated by Fear.
During World War II, Stouffer asked combat veterans
the question, "Generally, in your combat experience, what was
most important to you in making you want to keep going and do as
well as you could?" The same question concerning combat motivation
was asked of the Iraqi EPWs. Iraqi EPWs were expected to respond
that they were motivated to fight for each other (as earlier research
had shown with the Wehrmacht or North Vietnam's Viet Cong) or were
simply defending their homeland.25
Instead, the near universal response was that
the Iraqi Regular Army soldiers were motivated by coercion. Even
with the powerful coalition forces to their front, they were fearful
of the dreaded Baath Party to their rear. Their behavior was driven
by fear of retribution and punishment by Baath Party or Fedayeen
Saddam if they were found avoiding combat. Iraqi soldiers related
stories of being jailed or beaten by Baath Party representatives
if they were suspected of leaving their units. Several showed scars
from previous desertion attempts. One soldier related how he still
felt guilty that his mother was jailed in response to his AWOL26
status several years before.
When Iraqi soldiers described the desertion of
their comrades, they noted the universal practice of deserting with
small arms, rather than burying their weapons in the sand as U.S.
psychological leaflets had urged. Deserters remained armed to protect
themselves against the Fedayeen Saddam death squads they expected
to find in Iraqi rear areas. The decision to desert with arms is
one not taken lightly because it increased the likelihood of being
killed by U.S. or British forces, particularly reconnaissance units
common to the most forward elements. Armed desertion, then, represented
clear evidence of the fear experienced by those who wished neither
to fight nor surrender.
Surprisingly, fear of retribution was usually
not attached to officers serving in Iraqi units. Most of the enlisted
soldiers described their officers as distant, but normally not as
a threat. Iraqi officer training was described by a captured graduate
of the Baghdad Military Academy as "on the Sandhurst model,"
suggesting a British influence and a subsequent separation between
the ranks of officers and enlisted. Officers were often politically
appointed and not regarded as tactically competent by their men.
Such circumstances led to little mutual respect between officers
and the enlisted soldiers, but the strained relationship was far
from intimidating. Several prisoners reported that if their officers
had tried to force them to fight, they would have simply killed
them and surrendered anyway. No prisoner ever described an attempt
by officers to compel resistance against coalition forces.
Surrender decisions, in the sample interviewed,
were usually made at very low levels, often among small groups of
soldiers, and were not attributed to the capitulation of a higher
headquarters. Artillery shelling or air attack sometimes catalyzed
surrender -- though none of the soldiers interviewed had to withstand
lengthy bombardment. Officers permitted surrender, sometimes by
their own desertion, sometimes by benign neglect. One officer stated,
when questioned about why he had not forced his men to fight, "As
a man before Allah, that would have been the wrong thing to do."
Although he understood that his mission was to defend along the
edge of an oil field, he had no map, no plan, and no communication
with his higher headquarters. The ability of the Iraqi small unit
leadership to invoke loyalty and influence up and down the command
chain was almost completely lacking and unquestionably contributed
to the disintegration of Iraqi Regular Army units in the face of
advancing coalition forces.
As far as cohesion serving as a factor in combat
motivation, questioning revealed that if Iraqi Regular Army soldiers
had emotional ties to other soldiers, they were almost always with
soldiers from their tribe or region. Squads and platoons had little
or no cohesion. Iraq's approximately 150 major tribes are comprised
of more than 2,000 smaller clans with a wide range of religions
and ethnic groups. Soldiers spoke of units fragmented by tribal
or regional differences. In addition, units were at such reduced
strength that manning issues may have exacerbated the effects of
fragmentation. No Iraqi soldier reported a unit strength greater
than 40 percent. One of the two officers in the sample, a platoon
leader, found his unit composed of only nine men.
Many soldiers reported the practice of constantly
asking (and bribing) their officers for permission to go home to
their families for ten days out of every month. As Shils and Janowitz
in the World War II study of German prisoners found, surrender decisions
are greatly facilitated when primary groups are disrupted. The surrendering
Iraqi soldiers showed little or no concern about letting their comrades
down since their allegiances to their fellow soldiers in the unit
were already strained or never fully cultivated. One BMP27
driver related how, despite the fact that one of his friends was
both his vehicle commander and his immediate supervisor, his surrender
decision was easily made at home where he was physically and emotionally
separated from his unit.
Interviews uncovered no evidence of higher order
concepts such as commitment to national service or the Arabic obligation
to withstand (Sumoud) among the Iraqi soldiers interviewed. The
soldiers never invoked Iraqi nationalism or the need to repel Americans
as an invading army in response to questions about why they were
in the Army, or what would cause them to try their hardest in battle.28
The Iraqi Regular Army appeared to be a poorly
trained, poorly led, disparate group of conscripts who were more
concerned with self-preservation and family ties than defending
their country. It provided a good case study of what happens to
a unit when social cohesion and leadership are absent.
Motivated for Others.
When U.S. troops were interviewed shortly after
their experience in combat (for most, it was 3 weeks of continuous
enemy contact), one of the first questions the researchers posed
addressed their reasons for entering the military in the first place.
The responses were what most recruiters already know--to get money
for college, to gain experience before looking for a job, to follow
in the footsteps of a family member who had been in the military,
or just to find some adventure before settling down. Although one
or two mentioned that they were motivated to enlist because of September
11, 2001, most did not cite patriotism or ideology as their enlistment
As the interview progressed, soldiers were asked
the same question posed to World War II combat soldiers by Stouffer
and also to the Iraqi EPWs in this monograph--"Generally, in
your combat experience, what was most important to you in making
you want to keep going and do as well as you could?" For World
War II soldiers, besides ending the task to go home, the most common
response was solidarity with one's comrades. For Iraqi Regular Army
soldiers, it was coercion. For U.S. soldiers in the Iraq War, similar
responses were given about going home, but importantly the most
frequent response given for combat motivation was "fighting
for my buddies." Soldiers answered with comments such as, "In
combat, just the fact that if I give up, I am not helping my buddies.
That is number one." or "Me and my loader were talking
about it, and in combat the only thing that we really worry about
is you and your crew." The soldiers were talking about social
cohesion--the emotional bonds between soldiers.
Social cohesion appears to serve two roles in
combat motivation. First, because of the close ties to other soldiers,
it places a burden of responsibility on each soldier to achieve
group success and protect the unit from harm. Soldiers feel that
although their individual contribution to the group may be small,
it is still a critical part of unit success and therefore important.
As one soldier put it, "I am the lowest ranking private on
the Bradley [fighting vehicle] so I am trying to kind of prove something
in a way that I could do things. I did not want to let anyone down."
This desire to contribute to the unit mission
comes not from a commitment to the mission, but a social compact
with the members of the primary group. One Bradley Commander (BC)
spoke of the infantrymen in the back of his vehicle and the responsibility
he felt for them:
You have two guys in the back who are not seeing
what is going on, and they are putting all their trust into the
gunner and the BC. Whatever objects or obstacles, or tanks or
vehicles are in front of you, you are taking them out, because
they don't know what is going on. They are just like in a dark
room. They can't do nothing. Having that trust...I guess that
is one thing that kept me going.
One soldier simply stated, "I know that as
far as myself, sir, I take my squad mates' lives more important
than my own." Another soldier related the intense burden he
felt for his fellow soldiers, "That person means more to you
than anybody. You will die if he dies. That is why I think that
we protect each other in any situation. I know that if he dies and
it was my fault, it would be worse than death to me."
The second role of cohesion is to provide the
confidence and assurance that someone soldiers could trust was "watching
their back." This is not simply trusting in the competence,
training, or commitment to the mission of another soldier, but trusting
in someone they regarded as closer than a friend who was motivated
to look out for their welfare. In the words of one infantryman,
"You have got to trust them more than your mother, your father,
or girlfriend, or your wife, or anybody. It becomes almost like
your guardian angel."
The presence of comrades imparts a reassuring
belief that all will be well. As one soldier stated, "It is
just like a big family. Nothing can come to you without going through
them first. It is kind of comforting." One soldier noted, "If
he holds my back, then I will hold his, and nothing is going to
go wrong." Another added, "If you are going to war, you
want to be able to trust the person who is beside you. If you are
his friend, you know he is not going to let you down...He is going
to do his best to make sure that you don't die."
Once soldiers are convinced that their own personal
safety will be assured by others, they feel empowered to do their
job without worry. One soldier attempted to describe how the close
relationship he had with another soldier provided the psychological
cushion to drive his vehicle without concern:
I knew Taylor would personally look out for
me...It was stupid little things like, 'Dude, you look like you
need a hug.' He would come over and give me a big old bear hug.
He knew that I looked out for him and vice versa...Knowing that
there is somebody watching when I didn't have the opportunity
to watch myself when I am driving--Taylor watched everywhere.
When I am driving down the road, I have to watch in front of me
knowing where I am driving and knowing that I am not going to
drive over anything. I don't know what is behind me. I don't know
what is to my side. I trusted Taylor was going to keep an eye
on everything. He always did. Obviously, he did. We are still
here. Thank God.
It should be noted that soldiers understood that
totally entrusting their personal safety to others could be viewed
as irrational. One young soldier commented on his parents' reaction--"My
whole family thinks that I am a nut. They think, 'How can you put
your life in someone's hands like that?...You are still going to
be shot.'" Despite the occasional skepticism of outsiders,
soldiers greatly valued being free of the distracting concerns of
Of course, anyone who has been around soldiers
for any period of time recognizes that there is always a level of
bickering and quarreling occurring between soldiers--especially
in austere conditions. Social cohesion in combat, however, manages
to overcome petty disputes. A soldier put it this way:
I think that when we are here and we are living
and seeing each other every single day going on 6 months, there
is a lot of [stuff] that you just get irritated with and don't
want to be around one another. But in the same sense, I think
that everybody learned that no matter how [ticked] off we were
at one another and how bad we were fighting, when the artillery
started raining down and [stuff] started hitting the fan--it was
like the [stuff] never happened. Everybody just did what we had
to do. It was just looking out for one another. We weren't fighting
for anybody else but ourselves. We weren't fighting for some higher-up
who is somebody; we were just fighting for each other.
The bonds of trust between soldiers take weeks
and months to develop. Soldiers related how shared experiences prior
to combat helped develop those bonds. One soldier related how the
weeks of training prior to deployment helped build relationships
Going out and constantly training together,
NTC rotations...We are together every day for the majority of
the day, 5 days a week. You are going to start knowing what ticks
people off, what makes them happy, what you need to do to work
with them. Eventually a bond is going to form.
Once deployed, soldiers spent more time together
training. As one soldier noted, "We have worked a lot together.
We did a lot of field training together, so it is like we are brothers.
Suffered through it all together."
But cohesion is not just developed in training.
In the long, often mundane, periods of time spent neither in training
or actual combat, the bonds between soldiers are often nurtured.
One infantryman spoke of cultivating relationships while pulling
I knew we were going to end up spending some
time together, but I never knew that we would be sleeping nose
to nose, waking each other up to stand guard over the hole...You
are waking somebody up to help keep you awake and they will get
up and talk to you for however long it takes.
Interestingly, much of the cohesion in units is
developed simply because there is nothing else to do except talk.
As one soldier observed, "In a fighting hole with somebody
for so many hours, you get to know them real good because there
is nothing else to talk about. You become real good friends."
Another pointed out:
You are sitting in the dirt, scanning back and
forth, [and] the only person you got to talk to for me is him,
which is on my left right here, about inches away, sitting shoulder
to shoulder. After about a month or so in the dirt like that together,
you start talking about family. You start talking about everything...family,
friends, what is going on, and your life in general pretty much,
what is not right at home. Everything.
While some soldiers referred to the relationships
between soldiers as "friendships," most tried to convey
the depth of the relationships by using the analogy of the family.
One soldier insightfully noted:
You are away from your family and everybody
-- I don't care who you are, even if you are in the States and
you are not in the military -- you are going to look for something
to attach yourself to. In the military, especially when you come
out to the field, you have no family. Everyone here becomes your
family. With my wife, for the first couple years of being with
her, I had to learn to live with her--her routine in the morning
and how my routine fits in with that, who uses the bathroom first
and what have you. It is the same thing with a bunch of Joe's
walking around. You learn everybody's personality--who is grumpy
in the morning, who is grumpy at night, and who is grumpy when
they miss chow and let them up in front of you. It is pretty much
the same deal.
Another soldier echoed the family analogy by stating:
We eat, drink, [go to the bathroom] -- everything
-- together. I think that it should be like that...I really consider
these guys my own family, because we fight together, we have fun
together...We are to the point where we even call the squad leader
Despite the academic debate concerning social
cohesion and its effects on performance, social cohesion remains
a key component of combat motivation in U.S. soldiers. Social cohesion
is what motivates soldiers not only to perform their job, but also
to accept responsibility for the interests of other soldiers. At
the same time, social cohesion relieves each soldier of the constant
concern for personal safety as other members of the unit take on
Reporting the War.
To provide another perspective on cohesion in
combat units, the researchers solicited views from members of the
embedded media, who presented a unique point of view for two reasons.
First, they could describe small unit dynamics in combat from an
observer viewpoint. Because they were essentially outsiders, they
did not have to be committed to the unit's mission or contribute
to the unit effort. Second, and more importantly, embedded media
could relate their own experiences with relationships in their embedded
units. It was expected that most of the embedded media would avoid
becoming too emotionally connected with soldiers to maintain their
objective, neutral journalist role. Staying aloof would avoid predictions
that the media embeds would "end up 'in bed' with their military
protectors."29 As CBS anchor Dan
Rather warned early in the war, "There's a pretty fine line
between being embedded and being entombed."30
Embedded media were asked if their intentions
were to establish close bonds with the soldiers and then to describe
the eventual outcome as far as establishing emotional bonds. Surprisingly,
the overwhelming majority of the media interviewed did not attempt
to prevent any bonds from forming. One journalist commented, "I
knew they would form, I just didn't know how strong they would be."31
For the media, cohesion provided the assurance that their personal
safety would not be imperiled. One media person noted, "We
were going to war. It was potentially dangerous. I needed to get
to know people to figure out who to trust if things got ugly."
Another stated, "My intention all along was to form as close
a bond as possible, since my main objective was to come home safe,
second to telling the story."
Nearly all of the embedded media stated that close
emotional bonds did form, although the bonds were not instantaneous.
Similar to the experience of soldiers, time spent together provided
an opportunity for relationships to develop. As one embed stated,
"It's impossible to spend that much time living and working
with people round-the-clock and not develop both a rapport and an
affection." In the words of another journalist:
I felt at first the soldiers were very suspicious
and leery of me. But as the days went by and I faced the threats
they faced and I went through the hardships without complaint,
and I helped wherever I could, and I tried to do good deeds for
them whenever possible, they came around and actually ended up
feeling quite a bit of affection for me. I certainly did for them.
Another reporter related how he became close to
At the battery level, I rode with this young
lieutenant who was "in charge" of media relations through
the initial race across Iraq in the opening few days of the war.
We faced snipers and an enemy artillery attack together and I
think that helped form a bond. When we finally made camp out in
the desert and stayed there for a week or so, he and I often chatted
for hours on end (there not being much else to do most of the
To many of the embeds, the relationships that
formed were surprising and profound. One reporter stated, "I
don't really have many close male friends back here at home. So
I didn't expect much in the way of close emotional relationships.
I was pleasantly surprised that I made some very close friendships
with some of these guys." Another journalist reflected upon
the experience and stated:
I am still in contact with the wives, who pass
on messages from their husbands. We also learned after we returned
home that the two cots [I and my photographer] used...were still
in place and no one else was allowed to sleep there, either out
of respect for us or because they think we might be back. Either
way, I thought it was a nice tribute and demonstrates in some
small degree the respect they have for us and the friendships
we developed while telling the story of Charlie Co.'s war.
Interestingly, once a level of personal trust
was established via the emotional bonds with the soldiers, the embedded
media felt as if they could accomplish their job better. With their
personal safety assured through the trust gained by closer personal
relationships, the media could fully concentrate on reporting the
war. One embedded journalist contrasted his experience in the Gulf
War with the Iraq War. In the Gulf War, he felt like an outsider
and "a spy." In the Iraq War, he was able to deliver a
better product--reporting the war uninterrupted by a lack of trust.
He commented, "War is a barrier by itself, so you don't need
another barrier with a lack of trust." Another reporter noted,
"I became so familiar with them that I became part of the team.
I was serving my nation as well, in a different way, just like the
As far as becoming too close to the unit and losing
objectivity, the embedded media saw that the trust that comes with
cohesion works both ways. They could trust the soldiers, but the
soldiers could also trust the media to report fairly. After a serious
incident occurred in one unit, a reporter commented how the relationship
he had formed with the brigade commander allowed him to report on
What was really helpful was that by then, he
and I had already got to know each other. I liked him and trusted
him. When he said he was concerned about releasing certain information,
he would give me a reason, and the reason made sense. That is
not generally the case even in civilian life when dealing with
officials in a crisis.
Another reporter, after experiencing the combat
intensity of purposefully driving into ambush after ambush on a
"Thunder Run" into Baghdad, described how the bonds he
had formed helped him overcome his reluctance to go again:
The company first sergeant, in whose APC I rode,
asked me if I wanted to stay behind that day because he knew it
was going to be bad. But I felt that if I opted out of that, it
would be abandoning those guys. I felt I had to be there to tell
their story of the day they went into Baghdad to stay. So, despite
a great deal of concern, I went with them.
The perspectives of the embedded media are important
because they were a group that could choose their approach to establishing
relationships. While the bonds the embeds described were often qualitatively
different from the intense, almost familial relationships described
by soldiers, the presence of soldiers with whom relationships had
been established gave the embedded media a reassurance of their
personal safety and an empowerment to do their job.
Motivated by the Cause.
The conventional wisdom established by post-World
War II studies done on the American soldier is that soldiers fight
for each other. This generalization was and continues to be reinforced
in American society through media ranging from Mauldin's Willie
and Joe cartoons to movies such as Blackhawk Down or Band of Brothers.
Indeed, the findings of this study add yet another example of how
cohesion serves as an important component of combat motivation for
Cohesion is not, of course, the only source of
combat motivation. The notion of fighting for one's comrades has
usually been contrasted with the possibility that soldiers may be
motivated in combat by idealistic principles--fighting for the cause.
Past researchers almost always concluded that ideological notions
are not prime sources of combat motivation for American soldiers.
For example, Civil War researcher Bell Wiley studied both the Confederate
and Union armies. Concerning the Confederate soldiers, he wrote
that "it is doubtful whether many of them either understood
or cared about the Constitutional issues at stake."32
Concerning the Union soldiers, he wrote, "One searches most
letters and diaries in vain for soldiers' comment on why they were
in the war or for what they were fighting...American soldiers of
the 1860s appear to have been about as little concerned with ideological
issues as were those of the 1940s."33
The soldiers in the 1940s were the subjects of
Stouffer's The American Soldier studies. In that work, he noted
that, "Officers and enlisted men alike attached little importance
to idealistic motives -- patriotism and concern about war aims."34
He added that except for expressions of flagrant disloyalty, the
strongest taboo in World War II combat soldiers was "any talk
of a flag-waving variety."35
Surprisingly, in the present study, many soldiers
did respond that they were motivated by idealistic notions. Liberating
the people and bringing freedom to Iraq were common themes in describing
their combat motivation. In the words of one soldier, "Liberating
those people. Liberating Iraq. Seeing them free. They were repressed
for, I don't know how many years, 30 something years. Just knowing
that they are free now. Knowing that is awesome to me." Another
There were good times when we see the people.
. . . How we liberated them. That lifted up our morale. Seeing
the little children. Smiling faces. Seeing a woman and man who
were just smiling and cheering 'Good! Good! Good! Freedom Good!'...That
lifted us up and kept us going. We knew we were doing a positive
One embedded media person wrote, "By far
the most powerful motivation for many soldiers here is the belief
that they will improve life for the Iraqi people."36
Another embed commented that soldiers did fight out of a sense of
camaraderie and a duty concept, but an "icing of patriotism
guides their decision to go down this path."
Three points are important here. First, this combat
motivation centered on bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. It
was not nationalism or even a national security issue, but a more
fundamental outcome addressing the people of Iraq. Although much
of the official rationale for the war was much more complex, e.g.,
"Operation IRAQI FREEDOM is the multinational coalition effort
to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
and end the regime of Saddam Hussein,"37
soldiers focused only on the more fundamental liberation aspects
of the war aims.
Second is the timing of this response. Many soldiers
described how this motivation was revealed to them as combat progressed.
The images of Iraqi citizens, especially the children, helped the
realization of liberation as a motivation to emerge as the war developed.
As one soldier related:
After everything settled down we actually got
to see some of the people we liberated and we got to talk to them.
I think that was the most rewarding part of it. Getting to do
presence patrol and seeing all the little kids coming out and
waving, everybody honking their horns, everybody being happy because
we came over here and we kicked some ass.
Another infantryman noted:
We were down for a while because we were in
cities--all we did was get shot at and we didn't see no civilians
until like now . . . I didn't see it at first, and then I saw
the people coming back who are happy, it was like, 'Thank You!'
That really was the turning point. Now I know what I am doing.
It appears that today's soldiers are motivated
in actual combat by fighting for their buddies, but once the war
outcomes become apparent, the motivation shifts to more ideological
themes. Additionally, these soldiers were interviewed just a few
days after major combat operations, but before units transitioned
to the peace enforcement role. Possibly, as soldiers experience
a protracted deployment supporting the Coalition Provisional Authority,
this motivation may shift again.
Third, while it is no longer taboo to talk about
idealistic notions --especially after September 11th, soldiers still
find it difficult to express this moral dimension of their combat
motivation. It was not uncommon for soldiers to tell of the difficulty
of describing morally charged values. Comments such as, "You
just have to be there and see it for yourself" or "You
can't really explain it" were frequent. As one tongue-tied
infantryman put it:
It may be a cornball answer, but believe me,
I'm not into all that, but just actually seeing some of them waving
and shooting thumbs up. They are like, 'We love you America!'...I
am not like a very emotional person, but the kids come up to you,
they give you a hug. One lady came up to one of our soldiers and
tried to give him the baby so that the baby could give him a kiss.
It was like, 'Whoa!!' It was a heartfelt moment there for me.
Despite the results of previous studies and the
subsequent conventional wisdom that American soldiers are not motivated
by ideological sentiments, many soldiers in this study reported
being motivated by notions of freedom, liberation, and democracy.
Why would today's U.S. soldiers be more apt to speak of being motivated
by idealistic aims? Two possible reasons emerge.
First, U.S. soldiers throughout history may have
had ideological motives, but did not realize it. In his study of
American enlisted men, Moskos argued that while cohesion is often
the primary combat motivation, supplementary factors (other than
training and equipment) must exist to explain why cohesion alone
does not determine battle performance. He posited that cohesion
will "maintain the soldier in his combat role only when he
has an underlying commitment to the worth of the larger social system
for which he is fighting."38 He
called this commitment a latent ideology that supports the role
of cohesion as a combat motivation. According to Moskos, soldiers
may not acknowledge or even know about this latent ideology, but
it nevertheless exists. Thus, while today's soldiers still feel
awkward speaking of idealistic motivations, they may be relatively
less inhibited about articulating idealistic notions compared to
soldiers of the past.
Civil War historian James McPherson proposed another
possibility concerning why soldiers sometimes fight for ideology.
McPherson argued that ideology did serve as a combat motivation
during the Civil War. He proposed that three situational characteristics
were present during the Civil War that helped ideology emerge as
a combat motivation for both sides of that war. First, he noted
that the Confederate and Union armies were the most literate armies
in history to that time. Over 80 percent of the Confederate soldiers
and over 90 percent of the Union soldiers were literate. Second,
most of the soldiers were volunteers as opposed to draftees or conscripts.
They were not forced to take up arms. Finally, McPherson noted that
Civil War soldiers came from the world's most politicized and democratic
society.39 Soldiers voted, read newspapers,
and participated in discussions concerning national issues. The
interaction of these three factors provided the conditions where
soldiers were able, inclined, and encouraged to debate ideological
notions. Soldiers who are educated, comfortable discussing ideological
topics, and volunteers are more apt to fight for the cause. As a
result, McPherson argued that Confederate soldiers fought "for
liberty and independence from what they regarded as a tyrannical
government" while Union soldiers fought "to preserve the
nation created by the founders from dismemberment and destruction."40
Interestingly, the same three conditions exist
today. Soldiers are well-educated. The average education of a new
soldier in 2002 was 12.1 years of education. That implies that the
average new soldier is more than a high school graduate; he or she
has some college experience. Soldiers are also older and more mature
than we think. In 2002, the average new soldier was 21.1 years old.
Soldiers are also amazingly in touch with the
pressing issues of the day. Via the Internet, Fox News, and CNN,
they know the world situation, who the key players are, and the
essence of the policy debates. When The New York Times quoted an
infantryman of the 3rd Infantry Division as saying, "You call
Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home,"41
it was not only surprising to hear such a direct message being conveyed
up the chain of command, but it was also eye-opening that a Private
First Class (PFC) would even know who the Secretary of Defense was.
One embedded journalist commented on the underestimated
sophistication of today's soldiers and said, "Soldiers I encountered
were trained, ethical, thoughtful, and intelligent. It was not unusual
to talk to a Private or PFC and be absolutely astounded at how well
he could talk about why they were there [fighting in Iraq]."
Additionally, soldiers are attuned to ideology, values, and abstract
principles. Since the day they took their enlistment oaths, they
have been bombarded with idealistic notions. New soldiers are socialized
to be comfortable talking about value-laden ideas ranging from the
seven Army values to the Soldier's Creed.42
Finally, today's soldiers are volunteers. They
were not coerced into service, and they did not approach the military
as the employer of last resort. They come from a generation that
trusts the military institution. In 1975, a Harris Poll reported
that only 20 percent of people ages 18 to 29 said they had a great
deal of confidence in those who ran the military.43
Compare that with a recent poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics
that found that 70 percent of college undergraduates trust the military
to do the right thing either all or most of the time.44
Soldiers understand that they are professionals in a values-based
institution. They trust each other, their leaders, the Army, and
they understand the moral aspects of war.
The U.S. Army has matured from a conscript army,
through a fledgling all-volunteer army, to what is now a truly professional
army. Professional soldiers still fight for each other, but professional
soldiers also accept the responsibility that the Army has entrusted
to them. Evidence of this transition is found even in the families
of today's soldiers. When reporters interviewed wives about their
husbands' delayed redeployment from Iraq, one sergeant's wife commented,
"As military spouses, we know our husbands have responsibilities.
They are professionals doing their jobs." Another spouse added,
"I wonder how [complaining] must sound to someone who's lost
someone." 45 Still another spouse
noted, "I could have married anyone else who would have been
at work 9 to 5. The job (my husband) does is an amazingly honorable
Shortly after the latest Iraq War, Colonel Abdul-Zahra
of the former Iraqi Army commented that, "The U.S. Army is
certainly the best in the world. But it's not because of the fighting
men, but because of their equipment."47
Colonel Abdul-Zahra missed the point. The Iraq War showed that while
the U.S. Army certainly has the best equipment and training, a human
dimension is often overlooked. As military historian Victor Davis
Hanson observed shortly after the end of major combat operations
The lethality of the military is not just organizational
or a dividend of high-technology. Moral and group cohesion explain
more still. The general critique of the 1990s was that we had
raised a generation with peroxide hair and tongue rings, general
illiterates who lounged at malls, occasionally muttering 'like'
and 'you know' in Sean Penn or Valley Girl cadences. But somehow
the military has married the familiarity and dynamism of crass
popular culture to 19th-century notions of heroism, self-sacrifice,
patriotism, and audacity.48
The soldiers interviewed for this study presented
an impression that was often crude, vulgar, and cynical, yet that
impression was leavened with a surprisingly natural acceptance of
the institution's values. The U.S. Army is the best in the world
because, in addition to possessing the best equipment, its soldiers
also have an unmatched level of trust. They trust each other because
of the close interpersonal bonds between soldiers. They trust their
leaders because their leaders have competently trained their units.
And they trust the Army because, since the end of the draft, the
Army has had to attract its members rather than conscripting them.
Unable any longer to obtain labor by force, the all-volunteer Army
was "compelled to transform itself into an institution that
people would respect and trust. Bonds forged by trust replaced bonds
forged by fear of punishment."49
Because our soldiers trust the Army as an institution, they now
look to the Army to provide the moral direction for war. As this
study has shown, soldiers still fight for each other. In a professional
army, however, soldiers are also sophisticated enough to grasp the
moral reasons for fighting.
Two implications result from this study. First,
cohesion, or the strong emotional bonds between soldiers, continues
to be a critical factor in combat motivation. One of the main purposes
of the Unit Manning System is to increase unit cohesion. While critics
may attack the implications of the Unit Manning System because of
the effects on leader development, total force turbulence, or increased
personnel management complexities, denouncing cohesion as either
irrelevant or detrimental is nonsensical. Likewise, attempting to
dissect cohesion into social or task cohesion and then comparing
correlations with performance is best left to the antiseptic experiments
of academia. For those interested in overturning the DoD homosexual
conduct policy, it may be prudent to choose a strategy other than
questioning the linkage between cohesion and combat performance.
The Iraq War confirms what every combat soldier
already knows -- cohesion places a shared responsibility for the
success of the unit on each individual while giving each soldier
the confidence that someone else is watching over them. Spending
large amounts of time together, usually in austere conditions, develops
this trusting relationship. The Iraqi and American armies provide
an interesting contrast in cohesion. In the former, the absence
of cohesion made the surrender decision easy. In the latter, the
presence of cohesion was a primary source of combat motivation.
The second implication concerns the transformation
of the force to a professional army. The move from a struggling
all-volunteer army to a truly professional force has not been easy.
Early problems in the "hollow" Army included declining
enlistment propensity, low quality recruits, high attrition, and
plummeting morale.50 Seven years into
the experiment, Richard Nixon, who introduced the all-volunteer
Army, wrote, "The volunteer army has failed to provide enough
personnel of the caliber we need for our highly sophisticated armaments."51
The Army rebounded in the 1980s with "Be All You Can Be"
and a recruiting overhaul, but the 1990s dismantled much of what
had been accomplished through a demoralizing downsizing.
The survivors picked up the pieces, however, and
overcame another recruiting crisis in the late 1990s. Today, the
"Army of One" is the culmination of 30 years of movement
toward a professional Army. It is a high-tech, highly trained, and
highly professional force. The bonds of trust among soldiers, their
leaders, and the Army as an institution, however, are not invulnerable.
Horror film director John Carpenter was once asked what he thought
scared people the most. His answer: "Uncertainty."52
Uncertainty can unravel the trust that provides the underpinnings
for the professional Army through two means.
First, uncertainty can be introduced by subjecting
the Army to a major downsizing. The research is clear that downsizing
severely damages the psychological contract between an organization
and its downsizing survivors.53 Those
left behind grapple with uncertainty in the form of wondering about
the magnitude and duration of the downsizing, the management of
the downsizing, determining who will pick up the remaining workload
after the reductions, and wondering if their turn is next. In the
rush for lessons learned after the Iraq War, there has been enough
talk of trading force for speed that the specter of an Army downsizing
in the future is real.
Second, uncertainty can be imposed on the Army
through open-ended deployments. Soldiers will salute and deploy
to distant parts of the world when ordered, but when their redeployment
date is uncertain, trust with the institution is strained. Much
like the society they represent, today's soldiers view wars in terms
of weeks, not months, e.g., a CBS poll early in the war showed 62
percent of Americans believing that the war would be "quick
and successful."54 While today's
wars may be prosecuted quickly, the ensuing peace operations continue
indefinitely. As a result, the Army is increasingly stretched over
120 countries, and the ability to redeploy soldiers home after an
operation has diminished significantly. After observing the current
situation, Michael O'Hanlon noted, "It would be the supreme
irony, and a national tragedy, if after winning two wars in 2 years,
the U.S. Army were broken and defeated while trying to keep the
This study set out to examine why soldiers fight.
The findings showed that U.S. soldiers continue to fight because
of the bonds of trust between soldiers. They also fight, however,
because of the bonds of trust established with the Army as an institution.
Our soldiers are professionals and are the culmination of 30 years
of an all-volunteer force. While that may be cause for commemoration,
it is also cause for consideration as policymakers chart the course
for the future.
1. Ardant du Picq, Battle Studies:
Ancient and Modern, Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing,
1947, p. 110.
2. Why We Fight, http://history.acusd.edu/gen/filmnotes/whywefight.html.
3. Frank Capra, The
Name Above the Title: An Autobiography, New York: De Capo Press,
1997, p. 327. (Original emphasis.)
4. Thomas Doherty, Projections
of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II, New York:
Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 70.
5. Ibid., p. 73. (Original
6. Samuel A. Stouffer,
et al., The American Soldier: Combat and Its Aftermath, Volume II,
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949, p. 107.
7. Ibid., p. 110.
8. Ibid., p. 136.
9. S. L. A. Marshall,
Men Against Fire, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1947, pp.
10. Ibid., p. 161.
11. Edward A. Shils
and Morris Janowitz, "Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht
in World War II," Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 12, Summer
1948, p. 281.
12. Roger W. Little,
"Buddy Relations and Combat Performance," in Morris Janowitz,
ed., The New Military: Changing Patterns of Organization, New York:
Russell Sage Foundation, 1964, p. 221.
13. Charles C. Moskos,
Jr., The American Enlisted Man: The Rank and File in Today's Military,
New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1970, p. 146.
14. Other works supporting
the role of cohesion in combat include Nora Kinzer Stewart, Mates
and Muchachos: Unit Cohesion in the Falklands/Malvinas War, New
York: Brassey's, 1991; William D. Henderson, Why the Vietcong Fought:
A Study of Motivation and Control in a Modern Army in Combat, Westport,
CT: Greenwood Press, 1979; and Reuven Gal, A Portrait of an Israeli
Soldier, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986.
15. Richard A. Gabriel
and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army,
New York: Hill and Wang, 1978, p. 43. The fragging data is from
16. U.S. Code, Title
10, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 37, Section 654, (a) (15).
17. Elizabeth Kier,
"Homosexuals in the U.S. Military: Open Integration and Combat
Effectiveness," International Security, Vol. 23, No. 2, Fall
1998, p. 18.
18. Robert J. MacCoun,
"What is Known About Unit Cohesion and Military Performance,"
in RAND, Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy:
Options and Assessment, Santa Monica, CA: National Defense Research
Institute, MR-323-OSD, 1993, p. 298.
19. David R. Segal
and Meyer Kestnbaum, "Professional Closure in the Military
Labor Market: A Critique of Pure Cohesion," in Don M. Snider
and Gayle L. Watkins, eds., The Future of the Army Profession, New
York: McGraw-Hill Primus, 2002, p. 453. See also Stephen B. Knouse,
Keeping "On Task": An Exploration of Task Cohesion in
Diverse Military Teams, Patrick Air Force Base, FL: Defense Equal
Opportunity Management Institute, 1998.
20. Unit Manning Task
21. The Iraqi soldiers
required special consideration due to their status as captured combatants.
Both the Geneva Convention and specific guidance from Department
of Defense (Department of Defense Directive 3216.2, Protection of
Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in DoD-Supported
Research, Washington, DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, March
25, 2002) protect enemy prisoners from exposure to the idly curious
and from use as human subjects in behavioral research. Questions
were therefore restricted to issues involving individual and unit
military effectiveness and followed the advice and consent of staff
judge advocates in Iraq, Kuwait, and CONUS. Although camp rules
dictated that prisoners remain under military guard at all times,
the interview setting was made as comfortable as possible. A U.S.
military intelligence officer oversaw the collection of information
22. Colonel Terrence
Potter is an Arabic professor at the U.S. Military Academy and conducted
all the interviews.
23. While 16 U.S.
Marines were interviewed, the majority of the U.S. sample consisted
of U.S. Army soldiers. No noticeable differences in demographics
or attitudes were noted between the Marine and Army infantrymen
24. Subsequent quotations
from soldiers are taken directly from the transcribed interviews.
25. Perhaps the Iraqis
would have been expected to fight because that is what soldiers
do when their country is attacked. Sumoud (as in the al-Sumoud missile)
means "withstanding" or "steadfastness" in Arabic,
and soldiers might have been expected to respond that they fought
just to resist the invaders.
26. Absent Without
27. Soviet armored
28. Such questions
are sensitive in a prison setting and responses may have been influenced
by social desirability concerns. It should be noted that during
the interviews, significant numbers of prisoners were being released
from the camp--as many as 350 per day during the final 2 days of
interviews. Under such circumstances, prisoners may be less likely
to express defiant or nationalistic attitudes to military interviewers.
On the other hand, knowing that freedom was imminent may have allowed
them to speak more freely.
29. Howard Kurtz,
"After Invading Kuwait, Reporters Need Boot Camp," The
Washington Post, March 10, 2003, p. C1.
30. Justin Ewers,
"Is the New News Good News?," U.S. News & World Report,
Vol. 134, No. 11, April 7, 2003, p. 48.
31. All embedded media
interviewed for this monograph were assigned to U.S. Army ground
units. One could expect different responses from Air Force or Navy
embedded media as well as from journalists embedded to higher headquarters.
Unless otherwise noted, quotations from embedded media are taken
from phone, email, or personal interviews.
32. Bell Irwin Wiley,
The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy, Indianapolis:
Wiley, 1943, p. 309.
33. Bell Irwin Wiley,
The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union, Indianapolis:
Wiley, 1952, pp. 39-40.
34. Stouffer, p. 111.
35. Ibid., p. 150.
36. Ann Scott Tyson,
"Oceans Away, US Troops Crave Approval at Home," The Christian
Science Monitor, April 8, 2003, p. 1.
37. Photo caption
insert on all Operation IRAQI FREEDOM imagery, Joint Combat Camera
Center, a division of the American Forces Information Service (AFIS),
a field activity of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs).
38. Moskos, p. 147.
39. James M. McPherson,
What They Fought For: 1861-1865, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State
University Press, 1994, p. 4. See also Earl J. Hess, The Union Soldier
in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat, Lawrence, KS: University
Press of Kansas, 1997, pp. 97-102, for a discussion of the role
of "The Cause" in the combat motivation of Union soldiers.
40. McPherson, p.
41. Steven Lee Myers,
"Anxious and Weary of War, G.I.'s Face a New Iraq Mission,"
The New York Times, June 15, 2003, p. 1.
42. The seven Army
values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-service, Honor, Integrity,
and Personal Courage. These values are on posters, wallet cards,
and even tags to accompany each soldier's identification tags (dog
tags). The Soldier's Creed is issued to soldiers with their Soldier's
Manual on the first day of basic training. It contains statements
such as, "I am doing my share to keep alive the principles
of freedom for which my country stands."
43. Harris Poll, Harris
Confidence Index, January 22, 2003.
44. Institute of Politics,
Harvard University, A National Survey of College Undergraduates,
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2002, p. 2.
45. Jack Kelley, Gary
Strauss, and Martin Kasindorf, "Troops, Families Await War's
Real End," USA Today, June 12, 2003, p. 1.
46. Gregg Zoroya,
"Spouses, Kids Endure Own Agonies of War," USA Today,
July 11, 2003, p. 9.
47. Charles J. Hanley,
"Iraqis Find Price of Battle Too High," Associated Press,
June 1, 2003.
48. Victor Davis Hanson,
"Anatomy of the Three-Week War," National Review Online,
April 17, 2003, http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson041703.asp.
49. Richard A. Posner,
"An Army of the Willing," New Republic, May 19, 2003,
50. See Mark J. Eitelberg,
"The All-Volunteer Force After Twenty Years," in J. Eric
Fredland, et al., eds., Professional on the Front Line: Two Decades
of the All- Volunteer Force, Washington: Brassey's, 1996, pp. 66-98.
51. Richard M. Nixon,
The Real War, New York: Warner Books, 1980, p. 201.
52. Mark Seal, "What
Scares the Scary People?" American Way, October 15, 1993, p.
53. For an analysis
of the effects of the Army downsizing on those left behind, see
Leonard Wong and Jeffrey McNally, "Downsizing the Army: Some
Policy Implications Affecting the Survivors," Armed Forces
and Society, Vol. 20, Winter 1994, pp. 199-216.
54. CBS News Poll,
Americans See Longer War, March 25, 2003.
55. Michael O'Hanlon,
"Breaking The Army," The Washington Post, July 3, 2003,
The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department
of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
This report is cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.
This study was greatly supported by members of the 800th Military
Brigade -- specifically BG Paul Hill, COL Al Ecke, and LTC James
Judge Advocates COL Ralph Sabbatino and COL Karl Goetzke also provided
critical guidance. Finally, COL Jim Embrey planned and coordinated
the visits to units for this study.
Comments pertaining to this report are invited and should be forwarded
to: Director, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College,
Ave, Carlisle, PA 17013-5244, or directly to Leonard.Wong@carlisle.army.mil
Copies of this report may be obtained from the Publications Office
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