Friday, May 11, 2007

Petraeus' Letter to the Troops

In light of the disturbing results of a study released by the Pentagon last week indicating a frightening decline in the ethical standards held by America’s fighting forces in Iraq, General Petraeus posted an open letter to all American personnel serving there.

"This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we -- not our enemies -- occupy the moral high ground," Army Gen. David H. Petraeus wrote in an open letter dated May 10 and posted on a military Web site.

He rejected the argument that torture is sometimes needed to quickly obtain crucial information. "Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary," he stated.

The survey also found that problems such as anxiety and depression deepen with the length and frequency of tours of duty, a notable conclusion because thousands of U.S. troops recently had their tours extended from 12 to 15 months. "Stress caused by lengthy deployments and combat is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that we are human," wrote Petraeus, who is on his third Iraq tour.

Petraeus said that he understands "firsthand" the emotions soldiers feel in Iraq, especially when they see a fellow soldier die. "Seeing a fellow trooper killed by a barbaric enemy can spark frustration, anger, and a desire for immediate revenge," he wrote. But he warned against letting those feelings lead to illegal acts. Petraeus also called on unit commanders to ensure that their soldiers follow standards.

The strain our military – especially our Army – is under has brought our fighting forces to the breaking point. Human beings can only take so much; and what they have been tasked with carrying in this war is an unfair, unimaginable load to bear. As the General says, our military personnel are human beings. They have human limitations. Too much has already been given, yet more is still asked.

Enough already. We’re all in. Check and call.

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