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The view from the ranks

November 13, 2009

Re "Guarding the ranks," Editorial, Nov. 10

Too many people are unfamiliar with the military. They usually don't know how important unit cohesion is as a major component in achieving a mission.

What does the terror attack at Ft. Hood do to unit cohesion in any of our military units that have one or more Muslims assigned? Particularly in combat units, you have to have implicit faith that the guy next to you will have your back when you need him.

Will that trust now continue to exist following the Ft. Hood massacre? If not, then combat effectiveness in units with Muslim members has already been compromised.

I suspect this may become a major leadership challenge for our military over the next few months. How do we vet our Muslim soldiers without inserting nagging doubts into the other members of the unit that they can trust these individuals to be there when the flag goes up? And if we don't vet our Muslim soldiers after this massacre, are we derelict in our duty?

I suspect this terror attack will do more damage by its ripple effects through the survivors than by the immediate deaths.

Curtis A. Davis

Newbury Park

The writer, a Vietnam War veteran, graduated from West Point in 1964.

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As an enlistee in the armed forces, I took an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Although I was asked my religious preference, I clearly understood that as a soldier, my first duty lay to my country, and that if I considered my religion to be my primary responsibility, I had no business taking the oath.

Hasan stated that the laws of Islam trumped his sworn duties to his country, and he allegedly acted on that belief. He has been described as a "terrorist." I have another word in mind: traitor. If guilty, the major willfully and knowingly violated his oath and took direct action against his native land.

His alleged act should be called what it really is: treason -- a declaration of war on his fellow citizens. In the age of "stateless war," we need to apply new meanings to old words. Treason is one such word.

David Strauss

Arcadia

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