B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Jack Wilson

Army’s Morale Worries Brass Hats

Morale Is Lower Than Low, But the Boss Army Staff
Can’t Do Anything to Raise It

(September 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 35, 1 September 1941, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

By one lousy vote in Congress, the boys in the army camps were sold down the river for another 18 months.

And while the politicians in Washington feel that now the world can be made safe for Wall Street’s investments, the facts are just the opposite.

For the United States Army is in an admittedly profound crisis that cannot be solved, even by a shooting war. That will merely postpone its solution temporarily.

Two-thirds of the army lacks morale, Time magazine reports. Newsweek, another weekly magazine, devotes a special article to the same problem.

The United States Army lacks what the French Army lacked: MORALE.

The problem had become so grave, even before the passage of the draft extension bill, that it had drawn the attention and discussion of the most astute capitalist apologists and defenders.

Several Incidents

Here art some of the “incidents” which brought this crisis to light.

The 44th Division, consisting of draftees mainly from New York and New Jersey, was reported as “unreliable” by its officers following riots and protests over the possibility of draft extension.

Newsreels of President Roosevelt and General George Marshall, Army chief of staff, were booed by Mid-Western draftees stationed in Mississippi. This was repeated in many camps, reflecting the bitterness of the soldiers against the Roosevelt regime.

Desertions are increasing, although the army refuses to give out full figures, the guardhouses are full, as revealed by the Fort Knox, Ky., shooting and killing scrape.

There are bitter protests in the letters sent back home to the folks and friends.

Above all, there is the tidal wave of protest that swept over the army camps while Congress was debating the draft extension.

Newsweek puts it in drill sergeant’s language:

“But when large numbers of soldiers violate regulations by writing their complaints to Congress, the army knows it has on its hands a major morale problem.

Such widespread floating of regulations is intolerable to the army.”

Time magazine describes what happened in army camps when news was broadcast that the Senate had passed the bill to extend the draft and was sending it to the House.

“Around thousands of radios in thousands of tents from coast to coast angry soldiers growled: ‘Those obscenity obscenities in Washington. Obscenity the whole obscenity lot of them!’”

Time reports that

“In one National Guard division, once reputed for its high morale, soldiers carried out a special of ‘V’ campaign. They chalked up ‘Ohio’ on latrine walls and artillery pieces.”

“Ohio” means: “Over the Hill in October.”

Why No Morale

Some apologists attribute the lack of morale to the lack of good food, equipment, capable officers and sheer boredom. Obviously these are contributing factors. But Trotsky’s Red Army in Russia never had good food, nor good equipment. And it took a long time to build up an officers’ corps of any ability. Yet its morale was invincible.

Nor is morale the kind of problem that the U.S. Army’s morale chief. Brig. Gen. James A. Ulio, thinks it is:

“I’ll tell you what morale is. It. is when a soldier thinks his army is the best in the world, his regiment the best in the army, his company the best in the regiment, his squad the best in the company, and that he himself is the best damn soldier-man in the outfit.”

Wouldn’t life be wonderful for the reactionary brass hat clique if this wishful thinking were true? If the whole problem could be reduced to football team spirit and psychology?

The fact that the army chieftains approach the solution of the problem in this way indicates why the problem will never be solved in a capitalist army.

For high morale in any army consists essentially in that the soldiers feet and believe they are making sacrifices, Including their lives, for something worthwhile.

Given this spirit, displayed above all in the Red Army of the Lenin-Trotsky regime in Russia, questions of food, material, officers, etc., reduce themselves to proper proportion.

You’ve got to have a very good answer to the soldiers’ perennial question: “What the hell are we preparing for? Or what the hell are we fighting for?”

Nothing to Offer

It took Hitler ten years to build up an elite among the youth, to feed them with careful propaganda, capitalize on all the glaring stupidities of the so-called “democracies.” Combine this training in a totalitarian atmosphere with the special privileges of the Reichswehr and you understand the “secret” of the Nazi’s fanaticism.

Most of the Nazi soldiers think, at present, that they have something to fight for and against. (The high cost and strain of the Russian campaign, combined with the sudden shifts in Nazi propaganda will do much to disillusion the Nazi soldier.) But how can Roosevelt sell the American soldiers a bill of goods? A war for democracy when the soldiers’ democratic rights are being crushed? With more “discipline” to come!

An eight-point program for world peace which at best is a warmed-over rehash of Wilson’s stale 14 points!

A program to bring peace and prosperity for the folks back home, when all the letters from home complain about the high cost of living, the insecurity, and the dread of a post-war depression?

Morale consists of giving the soldiers something really worth training and fighting for. But this is precisely what is impossible for the Roosevelt imperialist regime.

In the last World War, the problem of morale became urgent after three years of slaughter. In the American Army it has arisen BEFORE the shooting war, BEFORE the tremendous casualties.

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 27.1.2013