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Why They Fight: Combat Motivation in the Iraq War

Authored by Dr. Leonard Wong, COL Thomas A. Kolditz, LTC Raymond A. Millen, COL Terrence M. Potter.

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+[Cohesion] +[Iraqi Freedom] +[OIF] +[profession] +[all-volunteer army] +[volunteer] +[motivation] +[Kolditz] +[Wong] +[Millen] +[Potter]

Brief Synopsis

With the recent lightning swift combat successes of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, there may be a tendency to view with awe the lethality of U.S. technology and training. The researchers, however, argue that the true strength of America's military might lies not in its hardware or high-tech equipment, but in its soldiers. Dr. Leonard Wong and his colleagues traveled to Iraq to see what motivated soldiers to continue in battle, to face extreme danger, and to risk their lives in accomplishing the mission. As a means of comparison, they began by interviewing Iraqi Regular Army prisoners of war to examine their combat motivation and unit dynamics. The researchers then interviewed U.S. combat troops fresh from the fields of battle to examine their views. What they found was that today's U.S. soldiers, much like soldiers of the past, fight for each other. Unit cohesion is alive and well in today's Army. Yet, Dr. Wong and his fellow researchers also found that soldiers cited ideological reasons such as liberation, freedom, and democracy as important factors in combat motivation. Today's soldiers trust each other, they trust their leaders, they trust the Army, and they also understand the moral dimensions of war. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the all-volunteer Army. This monograph is a celebration of the success of that radical idea and the transformation of the U.S. Army from a demoralized draft army, to a struggling all-volunteer force, to a truly professional Army.

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Also by the Authors/Editor:

Changing Minds In The Army: Why It Is So Difficult and What To Do About It
The Effects of Multiple Deployments on Army Adolescents
Civil-Military Relations in a Post-9/11 World
The Political Context Behind Successful Revolutionary Movements, Three Case Studies: Vietnam (1955-63), Algeria (1945-62), and Nicaragua (1967-79)
CU @ The FOB: How the Forward Operating Base is Changing the Life of Combat Soldiers
Afghanistan: Reconstituting a Collapsed State
Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the 21st Century: Reconceputalizing Threat and Response
Homeland Security and Civil Liberties

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Military Professionalism

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