My column last week about my son's suggestion to fire one general for each soldier killed received many responses. The moms who wrote overwhelmingly liked the idea, but many of the men wrote to tell me why this wouldn't work. I forwarded some of the emails to my son and he sent me the following response:
For those who think firing a general will cause them to keep us inside the wire:
Every officer knows it is impossible to keep every soldier in their unit from being killed. My point about firing generals is that they have the power to end this war at anytime they want, which is the only way they could stop the loss of American soldiers.
This war is not as complicated as everyone thinks it is. There are strategies that could put Iraq into a relatively secure state, but little motivation for them to enact such strategies. None of us has any real motivation to make the war end, especially when we are making so much money over here. Even an enlisted soldier like me is making money. With no bills to worry about, I am able to save $2000 a month.
But things would change if there was the possibility that at any moment the generals could find themselves looking for a new job. If the generals did not want to get fired, they would make this war end so we could come home and stop getting ourselves killed.
I realize that some of my son's attitude results from multiple deployments and seeing too many friends die--some deaths he feels could have been prevented. My son is not alone in second-guessing the decisions of the military leadership. Many moms told me about their sons' suggestions for conducting this war. All of the ideas were interesting.
One mother said her son had suggested that Iraqi troops should be trained out of country--that removing them from their family and friends would help establish discipline and determine friend from foe. Other soldiers had told their moms about better vehicles and equipment that they thought would make operations more successful. Some soldiers made observations I have heard from my son--that not enough emphasis is being put on securing the border and cutting off supply lines to insurgents.
I am certain that soldiers in every war have second-guessed the decisions of their leaders. Their perspective is often limited by where they sit on the battlefield, but sometimes they have insight that only those on the ground can have.
I certainly don't have the military experience to evaluate their suggestions. But if these are the kind of young men and women who look at their situation and think about how it could be handled better, they will come home from this war and go on to become leaders--in the military, government, or in their local communities-and their experiences will influence their decisions in the future.