U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Lt. Gerard R. Farao
James Clark, Task & Purpose: 5 Harrowing Stories Of Hand-To-Hand Combat In Iraq And Afghanistan
Is there less courage on the battlefield today than during previous wars? If you only looked at the number of awards for valor presented to service members, you might get that impression. There’s been a noticeable decrease in valor citations issued during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared with previous conflicts. There are plenty of reasons for this, but a lack of bravery isn’t one of them.
One common explanation is that the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan precludes the sort of close-quarters battle conditions that lead to extraordinary acts by combat troops. “[O]ur enemies generally use weapons at a distance from us,” then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said of the decrease in valor awards during a 2010 interview with CNN. “So, there’s less hand-to-hand or in-close combat than there has been in previous wars.”
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WNU Editor: Growing up .... I heard more than my fair share of stories from my father and his friends who served in the Soviet Army in World War II ... and that war is quite often very close and very personal.