Another startling dose of clarity from Victor Davis Hanson

Almost every media stereotype about the American military vanishes when visiting frontline bases. The world still sees dated Abu Ghraib photos, not Iraqi civilians receiving topflight care in the American-run hospital emergency room in Baghdad. 

We hear the U.S. Army is worn out — propped up by national guardsmen and reserves. Yet young enlistees differ. They claim instead that more mature reservists are a godsend for reconstruction efforts since so many back home were successful contractors, businessmen, teachers and mechanics.

Complaints circulate about the weight, not the dearth, of body and truck armor. I saw hundreds of Humvees on the roads, but not one was unarmored. I shot AK-47s with professional Iraqi soldiers and felt far safer amid their professional live fire than back home at the local municipal range.

Critics dub our military a “mercenary” force and sometimes call for renewing the draft. It is hardly a late-imperial Roman legion filled with foreigners and malcontents but rather a true volunteer force, whose diversity in age, gender, race and religion would shame a university faculty or newsroom. Most of the colonels I met are as well educated as academics, but far more willing to debate and question their own beliefs.

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