Wartime Worries

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"The Burden of Duty" [February 25-March3] was right on regarding the strain the war on terror has had on our fighting men and women.

For the most part they have taken it in stride while saddled with an administration more than willing to send them into combat for less than noble purposes. Men like Gen. Shinseki should be commended for their candor and truthfulness.

John Bolton

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran
Enterprise , Ala.  

"The Burden of Duty" indicated that many of today's soldiers have little desire to see the nation return to the draft. When I was an Army captain, the all-volunteer Army was initiated. I thought that we would end up with a mercenary, selfish armed force with little allegiance to the nation. I thought the poorest and most uneducated would be the only volunteers. My concerns were apparently unfounded. It appears that the Army has been successful in recruiting and retaining educated, dedicated, and motivated soldiers. I empathize, however, with soldiers' concerns that the general public appears disengaged from the Iraq war. People seem to disapprove of the Iraq war while showing support for the soldiers.

Lt. Col. Robert Rogers

USA ( Ret.)
Leavenworth , Kan.  

All wars, whether prosecuted splendidly or miserably, create hardened cynicism in the soldiers who do the fighting, which is troublesome. In the end, however, they will do their duty. Of greater concern was the chasm between then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki and the Donald Rumsfeld-Paul Wolfowitz team ["Scoping Out the Political Battlefield"].There is wisdom in our system of civilian control of the military. Yet, the success of this system rests on mutual respect, trust, and honor between civilian and military leaders. The declining number of civilian leaders who have worn the uniform is the single issue in this article that keeps me awake at night.

Sgt. Maj. James Walter Kraft

USA ( Ret.)
Clover, Va.  

In reading "The Burden of Duty," it seemed that many of today's soldiers are married, often with children, while during World War II few were married. Of the ten men on my B-17 bomber crew I don't recall any being married. Nor do I recall the men I knew on other crews being married. Perhaps the men's ages have something to do with it. During WWII, soldier's ages generally ranged from eighteen to twenty-two. Today, especially among National Guard soldiers, many are older with families. This may be ideal during non-combat service since it produces more career servicemen and women, but can lead to problems during times of conflict.

Lt. Col. Robert L. Hecker

U SAF ( Ret . )
Via e-mail