Antidote to Defeatism: Soldier Questions Media Coverage of Military Morale, Casualty Rates

The Washington Times has published today an op-ed from a soldier, Sgt. Joe Roche, who is criticizing the mainstream press for being “asphyxiated with defeatism”:

…most of the media seems asphyxiated with defeatism. The message from most journalists would lead you to believe that we soldiers are getting out, that no one is joining anew and that we want to stop fighting. This simply isn’t true.

Roche addresses military recruitment and retention rates:

Yes, recruitment is lower, but the caliber of those who are signing up and the rates of re-enlistment are both extremely high. All 10 of our major combat divisions are ahead of expectations for retention of soldiers. In my unit, there are soldiers who specifically went active duty from the reserves because they want to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Before September 11, a lot of soldiers were happy to just enjoy the benefits. Since that day, those soldiers have left. That is fine and not the disaster that defeatist reports are making it seem. Such soldiers were never the types to want to go on long deployments and face combat. Yes, they were heroes for signing up and being in a job that could go that direction, but they had other priorities that made their service contingent on enjoying the benefits rather than serving in war….

Roche also addresses media coverage of U.S. military casualties in Iraq:

I don’t know why the media insists on trumpeting the idea that all of us are tired and worn out and just want to stop fighting. I don’t, and I am not alone. The fact is that we are not experiencing casualty rates anywhere near past conflicts, nor for that matter as bad as during peacetime. There were weeks in Vietnam when 350-400 Americans died, and in other wars thousands would die in single battles. Nothing like that is happening now.

Roche’s entire article can be read in the Washington Times or on the National Center’s website. Roche, who served in combat duty in Iraq with the 1st Armored Division, has written numerous commentaries about the progress of the war, the pro-American attitudes of many Iraqis, the morale of U.S. troops in Iraq and more. In 2004, President George W. Bush quoted Roche in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington later included a quote from Roche in a display entitled “The Price of Freedom.” A partial archive of Joe Roche’s writing about the war is available online.

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