Pace Explains High Re-up Rate Among Deployed Servicemembers
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 25, 2005 Servicemembers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are re-enlisting in high numbers, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today said he thinks he knows why.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace spoke with Chris Wallace on the Fox News Channel's "Fox News Sunday," making his first appearance on a Sunday talk show as Joint Chiefs chairman.
"(The high re-enlistment rate) shows their pride in what they're doing and their understanding of how important it is," the general said. "It is absolutely true that for those units that have served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, that their re-enlistment rates are the highest of all of our armed forces."
Pace said servicemembers know they're doing important work, and also know it's appreciated. "I think Pfc. Pace understands the value of what he or she is doing, and they know that what they're doing is appreciated by the Iraqis and the Afghan people. They know that the support here at home for the armed forces is very, very solid and very strong. They're proud of what they're doing, and they want to continue to do it."
The chairman acknowledged that waking up far from home on Christmas morning can be difficult for the nation's deployed forces, but he added they can wake up with great pride in what they've accomplished in 2005.
"This has been an incredible year," the general said, "and all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen (and) Merchant Marines have so much to be proud of, and we should all be thankful."
Pace cited an unprecedented concentration of major relief efforts, including the South Asia tsunami, hurricane relief in the United States and earthquake relief in Pakistan. He also noted that U.S. servicemembers' efforts helped to bring about Afghanistan's second parliamentary election as well as two elections and a referendum on a constitution in Iraq.
"When they wake up this Christmas Day, and they're away from home, they also can take enormous pride in being part of a really historical year," Pace said.
The chairman also noted the contributions military families make. "You know, when we're overseas and we are in harm's way, we know when we get in trouble, and we are able to, through our training, do something about it," the general said. "Our families here at home don't know when we're in trouble, so they wait and they pray.
"And when we come home," he continued, "they stand in the background and pretend that we did it all on our own. But the families that we have supporting our military are serving this country at least as well as those who wear the uniform."