Reports suggest that morale in the various branches of the military is on the decline. In fact, military morale is said to be lower now than at any point since the worst years of the Viet Nam War. This being the case, the commander-in-chief could reasonably be expected to ask an important question: Why is military morale declining so precipitously and what can I do to turn it around? One would think a commander-in-chief would want to know the answer to this simple but important question. But there, as they say, is the rub. President Obama has not asked why military morale is declining and will not ask because he already knows the answer. The reasons for the decline in military morale can be traced directly to his desk.
The presidency of Barack Obama has been a failure by any objective measure. His domestic policies have failed to turn the economy around. Worse yet, these policies have laid the foundation for transforming the United States into a socialist state in which the entitled many outnumber the productive few. President Obama’s foreign policy has made America a laughing stock in the eyes of our allies and vulnerable to our enemies. But as bad as his domestic and foreign policy failures have been, they pale by comparison to the president’s failure as commander-in-chief of the military.
Since assuming the presidency in 2009 and, in turn, his position as commander-in-chief, Barack Obama has done nothing to improve either the combat effectiveness or morale of our troops. In fact, he has done just the opposite. He has constantly targeted the military’s budget for reductions; labeled terrorist acts aimed at military personnel “workplace violence;” hindered combat effectiveness with absurdly wrong-headed rules of engagement; handled the withdrawal from Iraq in a way that has undermined the courageous sacrifices of our troops; publically announced to terrorist organizations worldwide precisely when and how we will withdraw from Afghanistan; forced open homosexuality on the military against the advice of his service commanders; treated veterans like undeserving outcasts, allowing them to die while waiting for care in some cases and receive substandard care in others; and begun to force the idea of women-in-combat down the throats of reluctant military leaders who know that standing up to this commander-in-chief would be a career ending act. In all of this he has had the support of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and other like-minded liberals in Congress and the mainstream media.
It is a sad day when the military has to worry more about the actions of its commander-in-chief than the actions of America’s enemies, but that day has come. Considering the current state of morale in the military, it would be hard to deny that President Obama and his fellow travelers in Congress have put America’s national defense at risk by failing to respect and support the military. The best weapons, tactics, and technology in the world cannot compensate for what happens when the troops on the ground do not believe in their commander-in-chief and, worse yet, don’t think he cares about them.
This is why President George W. Bush was so popular with military personnel. They may have questioned the wars they were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they may have questioned some of his decisions. But they did not question the fact that he believed in them, respected them, and cared about them. A president who cares about the troops and shows it can be forgiven a lot of mistakes in other areas. But a president such as Barack Obama who shows he does not care effectively undermines the most important asset military commanders can have: high morale in the ranks.
Take away the morale of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and you take away the most important weapon in the military’s arsenal: the will to fight. A battlefield truism every military commander knows is that even a poorly trained, poorly equipped soldier who believes in what he is doing is a better soldier than the best trained and best equipped soldier who doesn’t believe in what he is doing. A warrior who, because he has no faith in his commander-in-chief, lacks the will to fight is no warrior at all. Morale is one of those intangible factors revealed in tangible ways on the battlefield.
For example, at the beginning of World War II, the French Army was bigger, better trained, and better equipped than the German Army, but its morale was low. The French poilu’s heart was not in the fight. His low morale sapped his will to fight. Why was the French soldier’s morale so low? It was because even the lowest ranking soldier knew the leadership above him, right up to the top, was weak, indecisive, and cared little about the troops on the ground. As a result, the French Army was steamrolled by a Nazi juggernaut that could have been stopped, preventing five more years of slaughter in World War II. With some commendable exceptions, thousands of poilus simply threw down their weapons at the first sign of trouble and refused to fight. Their packs were full of food, their rifles full of ammunition, and their tanks full of gas, but their hearts were not in the fight.
When military morale declines, the willingness of our troops to fight declines correspondingly. Further, when morale is low military personnel do not re-enlist, robbing the military of its best, most experienced personnel. What is just as bad, when morale declines military personnel advise others not to enlist. According to the active duty troops I interact with on a regular basis, we are approaching this point right now. In fact, several experienced NCOs recently told me that if they had it to do again, they would not join the military—at least not under the present commander-in-chief. Further, this is what they tell young men and women who ask them about joining the military. This is a sad statement coming from some battle-tested, patriotic warriors who love our country. Clearly, President Obama and his fellow travelers on the left have put America’s national defense at risk.