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Problems in Motivating Members in the Military to Continue Fighting in the War

Introduction

            The primary objective of the military is to protect the welfare and safety of the country within their jurisdiction.  Oftentimes, this objective has sent many young men and women overseas in order to prevent any threats reaching their country.  Since the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the U. S. government has been involved in a number of attacks in foreign soil, including the war on Iraq.  This war has caused much heated discussions among politicians as to whether U. S. military troops stationed in Iraq should be sent home or asked to stay in Iraq.  Recently, the discussion has shifted to a question of when the troops situated in Iraq will be allowed to return back to the United States since many of the military men and women stationed there are losing their drive to stay and fight.  This paper will present reasons why the members of the military are losing their motivation to stay in the military and fight in wars and how the government and military leaders will be able to address the issue.

Background of the Study

            The problems of motivating military cadets to continue serving their country and fighting in war can be traced back to the 1970s when the organizational and societal trends in democratic governments began to eat away at traditional ways in which military cadets commit themselves in the military systems of their country (Cotton 1990).

            It has been observed that while majority of the young cadets who have enlisted in the military are committed to the organization, only a few of them are committed to the moral values and codes that the military systems go by.  Eventually, the remaining few that enlisted in the various military systems, particularly those who have been given roles to serve in combat have slowly been influenced by the perception of their peers and families through time.  This has led to those who have remained committed in serving in the military to become frustrated (Cotton 1990).

Analysis of the Study

            Motivation refers to the psychological processes wherein an individual is given a purpose and a sense of direction.  Motivation prompts an individual to behave in a particular manner in order to gain various needs that are specific to that particular individual (Linder 1998).  The decision made by some military personnel to stay or leave the military and continue fighting for the causes presented by the U. S. government is greatly influenced by the desire to veer away from an environment that they would consider as stressful or dissatisfying, as well as the opportunity presented by other careers to make more money (Sielbold 1994).  The influence of these factors can be explained by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory.

            In his theory of motivation, Maslow had stated that individuals have five levels of needs to satisfy.  Two of these needs are the physiological needs and safety needs.  Maslow argued that unless a lower need is satisfied, the individual would not be able to fully satisfy the next higher need (Linder 1998; Swezey, Meltzer & Salas 1994).  In the case of the military, particularly those who are stationed in other countries, while they are able to meet their physiological needs such as food, shelter and health services, they are unable to satisfy their safety needs since they always remain on the alert.  Living in a hostile territory, they are aware that at any time they may be attacked and either captured or even killed.  Since they are unable to meet this particular need, they are then unable to satisfy the self-actualizing need where Maslow has placed motivation under.

            Rewards are another reason for the continuous decline in the ability of the military leaders to motivate their personnel in staying in the military and to continue fighting for the cause of the United States.  Rewards whereby incentives come in the form of promotion, positive feedback of from superiors and high salaries (Swezey, Meltzer & Salas 1994).  While the military may be able to provide an individual opportunities for promotion and high compensation for his or her service, the rigid environment that is characteristic of the military system may not be able to provide the kind of feedback expected by a cadet which he or she may consider as a form of motivation from his or her superiors.

Conclusion

            Contrary to the belief that monetary rewards given to Americans in the military is sufficient to motivate them in staying in the military and engaging willingly in combat, the paper has clearly presented other factors that must be considered by the military leaders and U. S. government.  One of this is their safety.  While military personnel are aware that their job entails entering high risk situations, once they have completed their obligations the U. S. government and military leaders should return them to an area which they would consider as a safe area as specified in Maslow’s theory.  Positive feedback that is personal and heartfelt should also be given to an individual whenever the situation calls for it.  By doing so, military personnel would feel that their efforts and actions are sincerely highly regarded by their superiors.  As such, they would feel satisfied in their work performance and would be encourage in getting involved in similar tasks, such as engaging in combat.

References

Cotton, C. A.  (1990).  Commitment in the military systems.  In T. C. Wyatt & R. Gal (Eds.)

            Legitimacy and commitment in the military.  New York: Greenwood Press.  pp. 47-66.

Linder, J. R.  (June 1998).  Understanding employee motivation.  Journal of extension, 36(3).

            Retrieved on 14 June 2008, from http://www.joe.org/joe/1998june/rb3.html.

Sielbold, G. Y.  (1994).  The relation between soldier motivation, leadership, and small unit

            performance.  In M. Drillings (Ed.) Motivation: theory and research.  Hillsdale, NJ:

            Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.  pp. 171-190.

Swezey, R. W., Meltzer, A. L. & Salas.  (1994).  Some issues involved in motivating teams.

In M. Drillings (Ed.) Motivation: theory and research.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.  pp. 141-170.

 

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