Morale, Sense of Accomplishment High, Enlisted Leaders ReportBy Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, |
The senior enlisted members of U.S. Central Command, Multinational Force Iraq and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, with 97 years of military service among them, said troops here understand their mission and feel good about what theyre accomplishing.
To a person, nobody has ever said, I dont understand why I came here, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia A. Pritchett from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan. They feel theyre bringing a sense of hope and giving the country a future. They can see the fruit of their labor, but feel that the story doesnt get out at home.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger from Multinational Force Iraq agreed. If theres a common theme to the complaints I routinely hear, its that nobody knows how well were doing, he said. The story of whats being done is not getting out.
The two leaders ticked off a laundry list of accomplishments in their respective operating areas: national elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq, progress on the reconstruction front from road projects to new schools, and inroads made in paving a better future for people who have long lived under oppression.
And the reserve components, which they described as a seamless part of the forces here, are bringing talents not typically found in military units experience in farming, business and civil works, among other specialties.
Servicemembers here feel a real sense that they are accomplishing something, said Pritchett.
The noncommissioned officers acknowledged that the war on terror has placed new challenges on the force. Even the most junior troops, they said, are finding themselves in positions where the decisions they make can have international and strategic implications.
This is not just a military fight, said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Curtis Brownhill, command chief master sergeant for U.S. Central Command. Its a political issue as well as a military issue, and the actions of one soldier can have a regional effect.
And that, the NCOs agreed, requires servicemembers with attributes like those troops here are demonstrating. Theyre worldly, informed about current events and, unlike during the days when the NCOs entered the military, theyre not afraid to ask the reasons behind the orders theyre given.
I grew up in an Army that didnt ask why, Pritchett said.
But its OK to ask why now, because they need to know why, Brownhill said. They need to understand the implications behind what theyre doing.
(Troops here) know their craft, Mellinger agreed. But its also important that they know the potential impacts favorable or unfavorable of what theyre doing.
With these new demands and responsibilities, the NCOs said, todays servicemembers are demonstrating strong initiative as well. They do a lot of things without being asked, said Mellinger. They just look and see something and say, Hey, I can make this better.
Brownhill called the troops waging the war on terror a testament to the success of the all-volunteer force. This is the best force weve ever fielded, he said. They understand the mission, and theyre committed to it.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, instilled a renewed sense of patriotism thats reflected in todays armed forces, Pritchett said. These young people want to give back and be part of something greater than themselves, she said.
I bust at the seams looking at these troops, said Mellinger. You just have to feel good about what youre looking at. Theyre doing fabulous work, day in and day out.
When they finish their deployments and leave the theater, Pritchett said, servicemembers take with them the satisfaction of knowing theyve playing an important role in an important mission.
The greatest reward they take with them is the knowledge that I made a difference, she said.
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