WHY THEY FIGHT: Combat Motivation in the Iraq War
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Since World War II, studies have argued and conventional wisdom has claimed that soldiers fight for each other. Cohesion, or the bonds between soldiers, traditionally has been posited as the primary motivation for soldiers in combat. Recent studies, however, have questioned the effects of cohesion on unit performance. This monograph reviews the combat motivation literature and then analyzes findings from interviews conducted during the recent Iraq War. By examining the perspectives of Iraqi Regular Army prisoners of war, U.S. troops, and embedded media, the monograph argues that unit cohesion is indeed a primary combat motivation. The report also notes that, contrary to previous studies of U.S. soldiers, notions of freedom, democracy, and liberty were also voiced by soldiers as key factors in combat motivation. The monograph concludes that soldiers continue to fight for each other, but todays soldiers are also sophisticated enough to grasp the moral concepts of war. The report suggests that this is a result of the transformation of the Army from a fledgling all-volunteer experiment to a truly professional force.
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