Leadership: December 8, 2003

Archives

Paying attention to troop morale has always been seen as a good habit for combat commanders. The war in Iraq is unique in that it is being fought under a media spotlight, which creates additional morale problems. Moreover, the Iraq operations are the most stressful kind, involving irregular fighters operating among a supportive civilian population (the pro-Saddam Sunni Arabs.) But there are many ways to improve morale. Using techniques developed during, and after, the Vietnam war, "force protection" (building bases that will keep the troops safe) is not much of a problem. Email and inexpensive long distance phone service allow the troops to keep in touch with the folks back home. But in a trend that can be traced back to World War II, leave (vacations, in this case during war time) have also proved popular (with the troops and their families) and useful (does wonders for morale and troops effectiveness). But one problem that arose, mainly because the media jumped on it, was the money the troops had to pay to get from the three U.S. airports soldiers. returning from the Iraq for their two week leave, were deposited at free of charge. It was still costing, on average, about $400 per soldier to get from that airport to their home, and then back again. Since the U.S. is spending over $60 billion on military operations in Iraq for one year, taking $55 million to pay for troops leave door to door seemed a good move (from a PR, as well as a morale, point of view.) The military has never paid for travel expenses when troops got time off from combat. During World War II, troops who had time off were left to wander towards the rear and find women, whiskey and whatever for their R&R (Rest and Relaxation.) During the Vietnam war, troops could go to other Asian cities for their time off (although a few managed to sneak back to the US, on their own nickel, for a short visit.) However, the new Department of Defense policy is not unique. The Germans, of all people, had a liberal leave policy for combat troops during World War II, and the troops got a free ride on the trains that provided nearly all the long range movement of people during the war. After World War II, as Allied experts studied how the German army managed to maintain such high morale almost to the end, it turned out that this leave policy was one of several important factors. 

 


Article Archive

Leadership: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close