Soldiers' strength must be tested in a time of war

In response to your Oct. 29 article "As troops ship out, stress is rising": It is true that military service presents especially arduous challenges to families. But when I served in the US Marine Corps in the early 1990s, we met these challenges with teamwork and unit cohesion, not with social workers and psychologists.

I made two deployments to Somalia and one to Haiti on 48 hours' notice. Marines who were scheduled to separate from service reenlisted for temporary active duty extensions just to make the deployment with their comrades. There are currently more than 4,000 former marines applying for fewer than 400 individual, ready-reserve mobilizations.

The fact that spouses are calling headquarters asking that their husbands stay behind shows how the US "Army of One" has failed its families. The comment by Capt. Adam Harris that the Army is not conducive to married life contradicts the fact that the vast majority of career-service members are married. Remarks like, "We have a kind of a peacetime Army" and references to "wasted lives" reflect the kind of weak leadership and poor example that is the root of the problem.
Robert Morris

Regarding "As troops ship out, stress is rising": I am opposed to all war, but I understand the motivation of men and women willing to kill and die in defense of their homeland, fellow citizens, and families. Such soldiers swallow hard and get about the grisly business they consider duty.

In your article, we learn that the promised war with Iraq has little to do with national defense in the minds of those who will fight it. Significant numbers of troops at Ft. Stewart in Georgia want no part in Middle East deployment. Even in expectation of victory, they speak of wasted lives. A sympathetic Gulf War veteran who is now a chaplain finds himself becoming "something of a peacenik."

Obviously, these soldiers don't view Saddam Hussein as Hitler, or as a significant threat to the US, and they are uncomfortable with war for empire.
Mike Murray
Ashland, Mo.

Women leaders underrepresented in US

In response to your Oct. 28 article "Colombia gets tough with a woman's touch": You quote a Gallup survey of five Latin American countries indicating that a majority of respondents believe women would do a better job than men in deterring corruption, curtailing poverty, enhancing education, and protecting the environment.

A Roper Starch survey about attitudes of women in the US yields the same results: Female leaders are considered more qualified to handle social issues and would be more trustworthy than their male counterparts.

According to the Inter- Parliamentary Union, a number of South American countries now have a higher percentage of women in their national parliaments than we do in our congress. The US still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality in our government.
George A. Dean
Southport, Conn.

View of church is often inaccurate

Regarding your Oct. 31 article "Reinventing church": I must take issue with the statement that, in traditional churches, "People must sign onto a belief system to join." This is a common misperception.

I have been a member of several traditional Lutheran churches, and I have never been required to submit to any sort of theological litmus test for membership. Many churches conduct "contemporary" services in addition to the traditional ones. In the face of such theological diversity, I suspect that the unchurched do not need new churches as much as an accurate view of existing ones.
Thomas A. Giesler
Madison, Wis.

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