Prof reports U.S. troops’ morale still high in Iraq

Amy Hamblin and Amy Hamblin

Military officials should be addressing lower morale among reservists in Iraq, though active-duty soldiers’ spirits remain high, according to a recent report filed by Northwestern Prof. Charles Moskos.

Overall, U.S. soldiers’ morale was higher in Iraq than expected even before Saddam Hussein’s capture, wrote Moskos, sociology professor emeritus and author of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, in a preliminary report to acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee.

Moskos toured Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar from Nov. 27 to Dec. 7 at the behest of Gen. John P. Abizaid of Central Command. Abizaid was looking for an accurate and outside look at the soldiers’ morale during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moskos said.

“Soldiers of (Operation Iraqi Freedom), of course, had complaints,” according to the report. “But the overall tone was one of performing an important, if not always appreciated at home, mission.”

The findings are based on a survey of about 500 soldiers, field observations, casual conversation and in-depth interviews.

“On the whole, the morale of active-duty soldiers was higher than expected,” Moskos said.

The soldiers’ high morale came as a surprise, partially because U.S. troops still occupy Iraq months after President Bush declared the end of major combat on May 1, 2003, Moskos said. Since then 381 U.S. soldiers have died — 246 of those from hostile action.

“(The soldiers) are in a very dangerous situation with no end in sight,”