General Petraeus, from a Q&A with Ralph Peters:
Q: After more than four years of often frustrating operations in Iraq, troop morale remains remarkably resilient by historical standards. Even re-enlistment rates are impressive. How do our men and women in uniform remain so committed?
A: They know they’re engaged in a critical endeavor, one that’s “larger than self.” They recognize the mission’s importance not just to Iraq, but to the entire region and to our own country. Despite multiple tours and separations from loved ones, not to mention the impatience, frustration and other emotions we all feel at times, our men and women in uniform want to see Iraqis succeed – and, of course, they have a fierce desire not to let down their buddies. The bonds of those who have served together in combat are particularly strong.
We celebrated the 4th of July with a wonderful ceremony in Baghdad. It included what may have been the largest re-enlistment ceremony in history: 588 of our men and women raised their right hands and signed up for another tour in the Armed Forces. Following that, 161 soldiers and Marines became United States citizens, reciting the oath to the nation they had been serving in combat, but that had not yet been their own. They were proud Americans, and we were all proud of them.