Friday, October 17, 2003

Brass and troops use the word all the time. Defining it is more difficult.

Is it the willingness to die for one’s country? The conviction that what one is doing is important? The glee of soldiers when a new batch of DVDs hits the exchange?

“I think it’s a tough one for me to answer. The answer is squishy,” said Col. David MacEwen, senior officer charged with Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation in Iraq. “Is it things or is it a feeling? I don’t think it’s things. I think what contributes to it are ‘Do my leaders, does my service and my country and does my family care about me?’”...

“It’s really a multifaceted concept,” said retired Lt. Col. Daniel Smith, who served in intelligence, as a military attaché and as a West Point instructor and is former chief of research for the Center for Defense Information. “One is a sense among the troops themselves that what they are doing is worth the effort and the sacrifice. And that’s fundamental going in. Also fundamental is the sense that the population of the country as a whole supports what they’re doing.”

Interesting discussion...and several more definitions here.

It appears the definition of morale is a personal one. My definition tends to agree with LTC (Retired) Smith. And if I were to try to quantify it I think the formula would look like this:

Sense of "adequacy of purpose" (including confidence in the chain of command, commitment to the mission, belief that the mission is worthwhile, and a sense that one is doing what they signed up to do) divided by comfort level (takes into account living conditions, camaraderie, ability to contact loved ones at home, food and showers and such.)

So long as the perceived mathematical result of that equation is 1 or more (that is the mission is worth what I'm going through to accomplish it), then morale will be "average" or better.

Meanwhile, here is another way of looking at the morale quesion:

...troops who believe in what they are doing and consider themselves well-trained to do it report the highest morale in the country.

Their gung-ho spirit seems to transcend hardships like not having air conditioning, chow halls or proper showers. Many expected their job in Iraq to be difficult.

“Even though we do not have access to certain things like a game room or a morale trip, I don’t think any of us expect these things,” said Marine Lance Corp. Gabriel Prado of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines at Twin Towers, a camp near Diwaniyah. “We’re here to get our job done so we can go home.”

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