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Letters: Panetta's warning to the troops

May 08, 2012
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets a group of soldiers last week at Ft. Benning, Ga.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets a group of soldiers last week at Ft.… (Mike Haskey / Associated…)

Re "Troops warned about conduct," May 5

According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, soldiers who urinate on corpses or pose with their body parts "show a lack of judgment, a lack of professionalism and a lack of leadership." Such actions, he said, "can damage our standing in the world."

What I found glaringly absent from his speech at Ft. Benning, Ga., is that such actions show, first and foremost, a lack of respect.

If soldiers represent me, as Panetta states they do, they would not do such things based on the core morals of respect and decency, and not for fear that they would get caught if pictures appeared on the Internet. Judgment, professionalism and leadership need the foundation of basic morals.

Heide Jenkins

Culver City

Panetta's comments about our soldiers showing "a lack of judgment, a lack of professionalism and a lack of leadership" ring true, but not in the manner he intended. War and killing are the actions of last resort by a nation in response to threats that jeopardize its people. It is absurd to expect soldiers to act in a professional manner.

The lack of leadership is society's. We as a nation are so consumed by a struggle to assert our rights that we forget our duties. As members of this great country, we are obligated to serve and to protect it.

All of us show a lack of judgment when we don't elect leaders who support these ideals. Instead, we choose people who divide us and play on our fears. In a true democracy, we need look no further than "we the people" to find those who lack judgment, professionalism and leadership.

Thomas Miller

Rosemead

There are about 1.5 million active-duty personnel in theU.S. militaryand another 857,000 reserves, stationed in about 150 countries. About 2% of the total U.S. population available for service has been on active duty with the military. Of this 2%, a smaller population has been personally involved in combat.

We are exceptionally fortunate that the conduct of our service members has not been worse; we can't say the same for our politicians.

Charles Bunn

Lakewood

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