Do soldiers today have to be braver than those of a generation ago?

Hi, Dan Damon here from  World Update

Next week we’ll be taking a look at bravery in war.

Nearly every day we’re getting reports of more casualties from operations in Afghanistan.

The number of coalition forces killed since 2001 now stands at 1700 and more than 4700 coalition soldiers were killed during the fighting in Iraq.

We know that low-tech ‘asymmetric’ warfare has replaced the conventional fighting of past wars.

As the nature of warfare has changed, so have the risks involved in military service.

When talking about UK forces, former UN commander, Bob Stewart, says,

“The people doing the real business fighting in Afghanistan are probably only two thousand. In a tour of six months, those two thousand will not only see a lot of fighting, but their chances of being hurt are probably ten percent – killed or wounded – ten percent. “

The term bravery has also been used when talking about the soldiers who refuse to fight.

Some soldiers, like Joe Glenton, who went AWOL after serving in Afghanistan and was demoted and sentenced to 9 months in the glasshouse, believe it is brave to stand up to the establishment.

Do you agree?

How do you think bravery affects recruitment, and do today’s soldiers have to be braver than those who signed up a generation ago?

Join me if you can. World Update 1000 BST. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook

17 Responses to “Do soldiers today have to be braver than those of a generation ago?”

  1. 1 steve
    March 25, 2010 at 16:19

    No way. Back in WW1, you know that if you went over the top, you were either going to die, or be seriously injured. There’s NOTHING like that today. Also, soldiers today wear body armor that can stop pistol shots, and some rifle shots. They wear helmets that can stop some bullets, and stop shrapnel. back in WW2, you wore a steel helmet that couldn’t even stop shrapnel, and clothes. Now every soldier wears body armor that can stop bullets. Back in WW1 or earlier, you got shot in the leg, you probably had that leg amputated. So not only did you have to worry about being killed, but you had to worry about being crippled for life, but today we have antibiotics and amputations are quite rare.

  2. 2 Ibrahim in UK
    March 25, 2010 at 16:30

    It obviously depends on which soldiers you are referring to. Presumably soldiers of “the West”?
    Today’s wars are not about self-defence, they are aggressive, illegal, against our interests and against public opinion. The media-savvy world we live in means that soldiers are all-too aware of this and carry it with them onto the battlefield.
    On the other hand, all the heavy fighting is done by the airforce, and the war is already won before the soldiers fire a single shot. Soldiers are not there to win the war anymore, they are there to win the peace; to put on a happy “nice occupier” face while pretending they are not occupiers.
    I think they are being put into impossible positions by politicians who have been exposed as liars and manipulaters. Soldiers have to be brave enough to put their lives in the hands of an apathetic electorate who tolerate these politicians.

  3. March 25, 2010 at 16:41

    Soldiers of to-day are not any braver than soldiers of a decade ago,or even 200yrs ago.All soldiers are brave inasmuch as they face unpleasant and dangerous conditions with courage.I have no time for the Joe Glentons.He betrayed his oath,he betrayed his regiment,he betrayed his commrades,he betrayed his family and he betrayed himself.

  4. 4 Ronald Almeida
    March 25, 2010 at 16:43

    I don’t know if soldiers have to be braver today but they definitely have to be more callous and less intelligent to be able to kill another human being.

  5. 5 nora
    March 25, 2010 at 17:05

    Soldiers always have to be brave when they criticize policy or tell their superiors they refuse to fight. In every generation this is true. They face jail, economic ruin and loss of certain opportunities.

    Cheers to Joe Glenton for speaking his conscience.

    • March 25, 2010 at 19:26

      Nora,The Afghan war started in 2001,Glenton joined the army in 2004,and deserted in 2007.What took him so long to find his halo!And then parrot the anti-war brigades propaganda about illegality.There is nothing noble about desertion in war.

  6. 7 T
    March 25, 2010 at 17:10

    In many ways, yes.

    Do they fight in an illegal and immoral war?
    The military treats PTSD as an annoyance rather than as a legitimate problem.
    Both women and men can be sexually assaulted in the military. And if you are, you’re expected to keep your mouth shut.
    If you refuse to fight, are you prepared to face the consequences?
    Does intl. law mean anything at all? Or not?

  7. 8 Tom D Ford
    March 25, 2010 at 17:24

    “The term bravery has also been used when talking about the soldiers who refuse to fight.”

    “Some soldiers, like Joe Glenton, who went AWOL after serving in Afghanistan and was demoted and sentenced to 9 months in the glasshouse, believe it is brave to stand up to the establishment.”

    Can someone tell me what is “brave” about submitting oneself to being trained to submit to an order and obeying an order? It seems to me that obeying an order is a submissive act, not a brave act. Is someone willing to talk about why being submissive is considered “brave”?

  8. 9 John in Salem
    March 25, 2010 at 17:35

    This is an absurd question.
    Bravery isn’t something that can be measured by “risk assessment” – any act of bravery is only relevant to it’s own circumstance. A soldier in the heat of combat who is able to risk his life by virtue of training is not necessarily more or less brave than the young wife with children to protect who remains at home and in the line of fire from an abusive husband. Both face injury or death. You can’t measure and you can’t compare.

  9. 10 steve
    March 25, 2010 at 18:40

    Here’s more, Back say in WW1, you got drafted. If you didn’t join up, you went to jail.

    If during WW1 you refused to do what you were ordered to do (go over the top, to deploy, or state you think the war is illegal) you got SHOT.

    Again, remember WW1 and earlier wars were about maintaining empires. You refused to fight, you were executed.

    I would think soldiers in years past were a lot braver than soldiers of today are, that as well as the lack of medicine, the lack of protective armor.

    In the UK, during WW1, there were groups of women who would go around to young men who appeared to be healthy and of fighting age, and would put white flowers on them to tell them that they were cowards by not being in the military..

    In WW1, there were single battles, over a course of a couple days, where hundreds of thousands of men were killed.

  10. 11 Tom D Ford
    March 25, 2010 at 19:08

    If I understand and remember correctly, under US military law, the UCMJ, a soldier who refuses to obey an order in time of war, as in a battle, can be summarily shot to death. So that “Sword of Damocles” is very much a factor in getting submissive obedience.

    So what is considered “brave”?

  11. 12 Cabe UK
    March 25, 2010 at 19:34

    Wars, warfare, hatred, killing, combat, occupation, aggression all these things have not changed over millenia so NO I do not believe soldiers have changed either… they are just as brave as before with just the same type of deserters as before as well…

    !! Their weapons have changed, the politics, awareness, preceptions, abilities and technology have all changed but ultimately whether you are an ‘occupier’ , or in body armour firing shots from 30 miles away, or in the midst of stealth, recon or bloody hand-to-hand combat its all the same – there is no difference..

    I think though, because less ‘bodies’ are needed to fight nowadays the responsibility they take on is higher so the stress and trauma may be a lot more? (not sure – but maybe ?)

    I’m 50/50 about Joe Glenton though – He freely joined up to be in an army that is going to war? – So am surprised that with that mindset, he then turns tail… I DO understand and sympathise that facing the reality of war is a horrendeous traumatic thing – but what did he expect would happen ?? Surely when he signed up he knew what to expect… I also DON’t have any sympathy that he left his post and the men that were relying on him with their lives.

  12. 13 Kenneth Ingle
    March 25, 2010 at 21:29

    A soldier who is not scared will not live very long. This was and will always be the case. Hero´s are those who do their duty despite fear, the others are just a bit wrong in the head.

  13. 14 Bert
    March 25, 2010 at 23:22

    It’s perhaps not unusual at all for a soldier to realise just how wrong a particular campaign is, only after seeing it firsthand. The best kind of soldier is the one who just does what he’s told without question and without intellectualizing too much.

    On the other hand, I know also from firsthand experience that lots of soldiers are, and have been, in his exact shoes, and stuck it out gritting their teeth.

    I actually find it harder to take the hawks who’ve never been there.

  14. 15 Subhash C Mehta
    March 26, 2010 at 07:17

    The enemy is becoming increasingly cunning: ‘therefore’, the soldiers do have face more risks today than ever before; but then, they are also much better equipped and provided than ever before.

  15. 16 tektwo
    March 26, 2010 at 15:45

    War is war… Whether your chances of getting injured are greater or less is irrelevant. As a front line soldier I know personally that you do not really think that you will be the one to die. When the bullets start to fly that all changes, how we deal with that determines not our bravery but our faith and belief in our fellow soldiers and support.

    Bravery is a combination of many factors.

    Wars are not won by the word bravery, they are won by organization, by following orders and by support staff.

    This man Joe Glenton is a disgrace, a coward and a dishonor to his unit. You do not join the military and then try to bug out when things get hot.

    He is thinking only of himself, not of the men and women who rely upon him to be part of a organized unit.

    You are either a person who is willing to fight and stand up for something or someone who refuses to fight for ANY reason and stand for something.

    People like Joe Glenton are in neither category, they are the lowest of the low and should be dealt with accordingly.

    Andrew in NY

  16. 17 Craig
    March 29, 2010 at 13:26

    So this guy joins the army in 2004, after we were already in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then deserted after returning. Not sure I see where the bravery lies. Not physical bravery during his tour. Moral bravery? Spending 2 years on the run and hiding is hardly taking on the establishment, so no. Not this guy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: