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The Army has been meeting it's recruiting goals for several months. This must be deeply disturbing to Congressman John Murtha - he's now urging Americans to avoid military service:
"Would you join (the military) today?," he was asked in an interview taped on Friday.Murtha's comments beg the question "But if you had it to do over again, would you enlist for Vietnam?" - but if that question was asked or answered it hasn't been reported in the coverage.
"No," replied Murtha of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees defense spending and one of his party's leading spokesmen on military issues.
"And I think you're saying the average guy out there who's considering recruitment is justified in saying 'I don't want to serve'," the interviewer continued.
"Exactly right," said Murtha.
When asked about Murtha's remarks in a press conference, current Marine and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace responded:
Q: If I could switch topics, sir, this week Representative John Murtha was asked if he would join the U.S. military today, and he said no. And pressed in that ABC interview -- and I don't know if you saw it or not -- he said -- the interviewer said, "I think you're saying the average guy who's considering recruitment is justified in saying, 'I don't want to serve.'" And he said, "Exactly right." Can get your response to those statements?
GEN. PACE: You know, when I got back yesterday, one of the first questions I was asked was what I thought about that. I had not seen the clip. I did get a chance to see it yesterday.
A large segment of the clip had to do with opinion about the war, and that's not my lane. This country's strength is based on the ability of its citizens and its leadership to have divergent views.
There were two parts in what I saw that went directly to my lane in the road, which is the health of the U.S. military. One was a statement that the U.S. Army is not well trained. The United States Army is well-trained. It is the best trained army in the world. It has never been better-trained, and we will continue to make sure that it stays well- trained.
The second was a quote that you just mentioned. That's damaging to recruiting, it's damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed, and it's damaging to the morale of their families who believe in what they're doing to serve this country. We have almost 300 million Americans who are being protected by 2.4 (million) volunteer active, Guard and Reserve members. We must recruit to that force. When a respected leader like Mr. Murtha, who has spent 37 extremely honorable years as a Marine, fought in two wars, has served the country extremely well in the Congress of the United States, when a respected individual like that says what he said, and 18- and 19-year-olds look to their leadership to determine how they are expected to act, they can get the wrong message.
Q: Sir, you look and sound a little angry about this. Am I misreading that?
GEN. PACE: I would describe myself as "energized" -- (laughter) -- because we have an all-volunteer, all-recruited United States armed forces. I believe that all young people should have the opportunity to serve their country in whatever way they see fit, and that those who would elect to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be encouraged to do, especially when we're in a war where our enemy has stated intention of destroying our way of life.
Q: So, General, is it irresponsible of the congressman to have made those remarks?
GEN. PACE: I think I've said what I needed to say about that.
General Pace also pointed out that the Army has met its recruiting goals for the last six months.
Last night Congressman Murtha dismissed General Pace's comments at a "Town Hall Forum" in Arlington, Va., sponsored by Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) The Washington Post:
In an emotional two-hour public forum in Arlington last night on the Iraq war, one of the Bush administration's chief critics, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), renewed his call for an immediate pullout, saying, "We've become the enemy."
Before a crowd of about 600 people that spilled out of the auditorium and into an overflow room and the street, Murtha accused the Pentagon of ignoring a drop in recruitment levels and tolerating such problems in Iraq as low morale and shortages of body armor and other equipment.
"Instead of taking on the real problems, they face it with rhetoric," he said. " 'Murtha's hurting recruiting,' " the congressman said. "They say, 'You're hurting the effort and hurting the troops.' That's what so frustrating to me."
Most of Murtha and Moran's talking points from this event are from 2003-2004 - not enough armor, Abu Ghraib was a result of poor training, troops aren't getting medical care, only poor people join the army - we've debunked them all here over the past several months. As the Post noted, MoveOn.org sent e-mails to opponents of the war urging the faithful to attend. And although several Iraq war veterans turned activist made the long trek to cheer him on, an actual "local vet" also made an appearance. The Post offered a partial quote:
But one veteran angrily confronted him.But video of the event is available on CSPAN - and watching it reveals a much more interesting exchange. Sgt Seavey is the first man at the mike, at approximately the 34:30 point in the video (Update: Michelle Malkin has the exact segment here):
Said former Army sergeant Mark Seavey, who recently returned from Afghanistan: "I keep hearing you say morale is low, and I resent that. I don't know who you are talking to. Morale . . . is very high."
"Yes sir my name is Mark Seavey and I just want to thank you for coming up here. Until about a month ago I was Sgt Mark Seavey infantry squad leader, I returned from Afghanistan. My question to you, (applause)
"Like yourself I dropped out of college two years ago to volunteer to go to Afghanistan, and I went and I came back. If I didn't have a herniated disk now I would volunteer to go to Iraq in a second with my troops, three of which have already volunteered to go to Iraq. I keep hearing you say how you talk to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characterization. (applause) The morale of the troops that I talk to is phenomenal, which is why my troops are volunteering to go back, despite the hardships they had to endure in Afghanistan.
"And Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just returned from Afghanistan. We never got a letter from you; we never got a visit from you. You didn't come to our homecoming. The only thing we got from any of our elected officials was one letter from the governor of this state thanking us for our service in Iraq, when we were in Afghanistan. That's reprehensible. I don't know who you two are talking to but the morale of the troops is very high."
Moran - who is one of the few congressmen supporting Charlie Rangel's call to restore the draft - responded quickly: "That wasn't in the form of a question, it was in the form of a statement. But, uhh... let's go over here." And he took the next question.
That was not in the form of a response to Sgt Seavey in any way shape or form.
In addition to declaring the US troops "demoralized", "defeated", and "the enemy", Murtha also recently defended the "insurgents" in Iraq:
Bin Laden said he attacked the United States because of the troops in Saudi Arabia. That's terrorism. Terrorism was in London. Terrorism was in Spain. Terrorism was, obviously, in the United States.According to the government of Iraq, Murtha's "insurgents" killed over 7,000 Iraqis last year:
That's completely separate from what's going on in Iraq. Iraq is an insurgency.
"Very small proportion of the people that are involved in the insurgency are terrorists or how I would interpret them as terrorists."
The year 2005 saw 2,880 terrorist attacks target Iraqi security forces and civilians, Major Abdul Aziz al-Mousawi said. About 1,225 policemen and 475 soldiers were killed, along with 4,021 civilians and 1,709 insurgents, he said. Overall, 7,430 Iraqis were killed, according to the figures.But "we" are the enemy.
Elsewhere on this topic (updated):
Gateway Pundit has video of General Pace's comments here.
Best of the Web Today offers more observations from that Moran/Murtha Town Hall meeting.
MilBloggers weigh in:
Update: More from Mudville here.
I especially liked Sgt Seavey's "question"...the Congressman's feeble "response" is telling.
I like it when troops hold our elected officials accountable ["And Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just returned from Afghanistan. We never got a letter from you; we never got a visit from you. You didn't come to our homecoming.]...what an indictment.
AFVPosted by Air Force Voices at January 6, 2006 10:27 PM
I must say this is appalling. You know whose morale I think is low? The politicians. They're damn near surrendering after every NYTimes headline lands! I think that perhaps Murtha left the Marines because there's entirely too much victory in that service for him to tolerate.
I'll tell you, though. This is the kind of behavior that doesn't surprise me coming from a politician. It does, however, surprise me coming from a Marine. It would seem the political system can warp even that.Posted by Patrick at January 6, 2006 10:36 PM
Outstanding post! Thanks for assembling this little-known info.Posted by Owl Creek Observer at January 6, 2006 10:57 PM
--Murtha's comments beg the question "But if you had it to do over again, would you enlist for Vietnam?" - but if that question was asked or answered it hasn't been reported in the coverage.--
I might also have asked, "Do you think the military would want you (John Murtha) today?" Even if the gutless reporter couldn't ask Murtha for fear of being outed he/she could have asked General Pace that question. The silence would have been deafening!Posted by Mickey at January 7, 2006 02:12 AM
"That was not in the form of a response to Sgt Seavey in any way shape or form."
You crack me up oh Wise and Powerful GreyHawk. You definitely have the gift of humor and understatement that was most recently seen in Sir Winston Churchill. He, too, had a fine command of the English language ---- and was a bulldog in defense of his country and his countrymen. You are in good company, sir.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at January 7, 2006 02:47 AM
I don't know why, but every time I try to trackback to this site, I get this error:
"You are pinging trackbacks too quickly. Please try again later."
I haven't sent a ping in weeks. Weird! Anyhoo...just wanted to trackback my thoughts on Murtha.Posted by JimK at January 7, 2006 02:52 AM
Thanks for making me famous! Hope you guys liked my comments, I was so pissed off and nervous up there I wasn't even certain what I had said.
I think my 15 minutes of fame is up, but I liked hitting Moran like that. What a piece of work that guy is.Posted by Mark Seavey at January 7, 2006 05:18 AM
Mark, thank you for standing up for you fellow soldiers and the civilians who support and appreciate your efforts and sacrifices. Your courage knows no bounds.Posted by Dan Gee at January 7, 2006 06:47 AM
Mark, I thought you were excellent. You were cool, calm and collected - yet anyone should be able to see that you were angry. You did good. At the beginning of the town hall meeting Moran said they would take questions or statements, but after you spoke, you were brushed off (ostensibly) because you made a statement - one they were obviously unwilling/unprepared to respond to. Yes, Moran talked about his support of the troops soon after you spoke, but he should have addressed YOU, right then and there, before you left the microphone. I really admire you for speaking out in such a public forum, and I hope you are able to do more of it. This country needs to hear a lot more of what you have to say.
Infinity8Ball, I guess you are a much more forgiving person than I am. What I saw and felt was Moran backpedaling, nothing more. God forbid he should be seen as brushing off the concerns and feelings of a vet - particularly when that vet is standing right in front of him! If he'd spent even a tenth of the time expressing his appreciation of Mark's (and ALL the troops') service that he and Murtha spent in their mutual "isn't he wonderful"-fest at the meeting's beginning, I'd be less angry.Posted by Sandy D. at January 7, 2006 08:12 AM
Mark, there is a reason why the majority of Americans have more faith and trust in you than in the likes of Murtha, you affirm the idea that defending America is far more important to us than defending cowardly politicians whose only mission is to establish their own power over the people.
You Sir, I will defend with my life. Murtha can rot in his narcissistic hades for all I care.Posted by susan at January 7, 2006 12:37 PM
Great post, I served during the war and OIF1 and even back then I wouldn't say the military was untrained. We reacted to things we had never seen before such as IED's and developed tactics to deal with them. The soldiers today are even better trained and doing and even better job in Iraq by taking the lessons learned from OIF1.
General Pace's comment were right on. I have been impressed by him. Likewise I was impressed with SGT Mark Seavey's comments. He was right on. I wish I could say something like that to my congresswoman Patty Murray. She is just as bad as Murtha.Posted by GI Korea at January 7, 2006 02:29 PM
When I was in Vietnam every once in awhile a soldier would loose his nerve. And in war when you loose your nerve and can't pull the trigger your no good to anyone but the enemy.. "I think Murtha has lost his nerve".................
Question? Why won't Murtha release his Military medical and service records?
I agree with the comments above. On a lighter note, I sure hope Sgt Seavey never has to buy another beverage for himself. He was spot on, and it was a surgical strike. Wish I had that capability.Posted by JCK at January 7, 2006 11:45 PM
Murtha, at best, is showing negative leadership skills, at worst he is demoralizing our troops. He should shut his trap.Posted by ledger1 at January 8, 2006 05:14 AM
As a mom of a MArine I just want to thank you for saying what every single parent I know wants to say.
God bless you!
You did great!
"That's damaging to recruiting, it's damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed, and it's damaging to the morale of their families who believe in what they're doing to serve this country." [GEN Pace]
Just what the hell IS the definition of treason, anyway? If the above isn't 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy', I can't imagine what is. I say try that fat bastard and let the Marines hang him. Twice.
Let me tell you brother, that was the most impressive statement I have ever heard. The look on his face after you spoke was truely "PRICELESS". We've got to get back up sometime soon and trust me, you won't have to put your hand in your pocket!!!Posted by Charles Rush at January 11, 2006 11:12 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(17) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)