Jewish World Review May 30, 2003 / 28 Iyar, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Our best and brightest are not at Harvard


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | One of the smarter of the many smart decisions made by the Pentagon during Operation Iraqi Freedom was the decision widely to "embed" journalists with U.S. troops. I think it may cause a sea change in the attitude of journalists toward soldiers.

I am writing now to express my respect for and appreciation of the soldiers in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the First Armored Division, with whom I was embedded, and the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) with whom I was privileged to spend some time.

Dozens of articles already have been written by formerly embedded reporters, describing how much they thought of the soldiers and Marines. They shared hardships and intense experiences togehter. The journalists expressed how hard it was to leave their new friends.

Journalism is dominated by people who were Vietnam War protesters, and I suspect it came as a shock to many of the embedded reporters to learn that soldiers and Marines are bright, tough, skilled, brave and humane. The most touching of these articles, for me, was by a female correspondent for the Arab News, an English-language newspaper in Saudi Arabia. She described how kind the Marines were to her, how solicitious they were for her safety. She concluded that Marines were just like Arabs, and ought to be friends.

During the Vietnam War, many in journalism developed the vile notion that journalists should be neutral when their country is at war. The experiences of the embedded reporters may very well change that. We could see a return to the days of the prototypical "embedded" reporter, Ernie Pyle of World War II. Ernie always wrote what he thought was the truth, and preferred the company of enlisted men to officers. But there was never any question of which side he was on.

As a former Marine and soldier, I expected to like soldiers and Marines. But I was surprised by how much better our Army is today, compared with what it was like when I was a young man.

The biggest change is in the intelligence and the education of the enlisted force. The categories overlap, but are not the same. Two of the brightest young soldiers I met were high school dropouts, a third had just barely graduated. Their academic performance was more a reflection on the high schools they attended than on themselves. They were bored in school, and goofed off or got into trouble. I expect all three to do well in college when their hitch is up. It's to the Army's credit that it provided them with the challenge and the discipline the public schools did not.

The Army provides excellent educational opportunities for its members. It is difficult to find a senior sergeant in the Army today who does not have at least a junior college degree. Many first sergeants and sergeants major have four-year degrees. Officers above the rank of captain often have master's degrees.

In the unit with which I spent the most time — Tiger Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment — active duty soldiers blended well with reserve soldiers attached to the squadron. All the reservists I encountered had good attitudes, and exhibited skill and professionalism akin to that of the full-time soldiers. What I saw of women soldiers — who were mostly in these reserve units — made me less wary of the concept than I had been. They performed their jobs well, and cheerfully tolerated living conditions I couldn't imagine my wife or daughter putting up with.

Race relations in the Army in the 1970s were tense. No more. It would be difficult to find more interracial harmony anywhere in the civilian world than there is in the military units with which I spent time in Iraq. Contrary to liberal mythology, blacks are somewhat under-represented in the combat arms. And many of those who remain are authority figures — platoon sergeants and first sergeants.

The college professors and students at prestigious universities who protested the war in Iraq imagine themselves to be America's best and brightest. They're not. America's best are those who are wearing the uniform of their country. We should be as proud of them as we are grateful to them.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

05/28/03: Military man says he feels more welcome in Iraq than in many European countries
05/23/03: DISPATCHES FROM THE DESERT: Hard-won capture lost in a mix-up over papers
05/21/03: In danger of losing the peace?
05/19/03: Dispatches from the Desert: The truth tellers
05/14/03: They won the battle, but lost the morale
05/12/03: Dispatches from the Desert: Cavalry scout's skills include coffee-making
05/08/03: Dispatches from the Desert: Ammo boxes in trucks get attention of soldiers
05/06/03: Syrian border diarist: Only trouble in Iraq seems to be news
04/28/03: Loser generals : They shot (off their mouths) and missed
04/25/03: A war we could lose
04/21/03: The "Collaborators' News Network"
04/14/03: Axis of Weasels is coming to its senses?
04/11/03: Peace will be a mess
04/08/03: It's a mad, mad (Arab) world
04/03/03: Ah, the life of a war correspondent this time around
04/02/03: The difference between hopes and expectations
03/31/03: Iraq is a steppingstone, not a final stop
03/24/03: European media and former 'human shields' are beginning to get it
03/20/03: Was getting the UN involved worth it?
03/18/03: South Koreans no longer behaving as if they were the French of Northeast Asia --- why?
03/11/03: Ultimatum's moment of truth
03/11/03: Thank you, Turkey, we needed that
03/07/03: The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror --- it's is the main event
03/04/03: Bioterror nightmare approaching --- how it could likely happen
02/27/03: Iranian student: Can America hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?
02/25/03: Yahoos on both the Left and the Right are trying to prevent government from maximizing technology in protecting us
02/20/03: Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War
02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
02/05/03: Does the FBI have the ability to protect us from terrorists already here?
02/03/03: The "Axis of Weasels"
01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
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06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
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05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
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04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly