Monday, Nov. 27, marks the day when the Iraq war becomes longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II. Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales notes that he is surprised that the U.S. military has held out this long, considering that it is an all-volunteer service. A veteran of Vietnam, Scales credits the country's sergeants for holding things together.
Of sergeants, Scales says, "They are the soul of our army, the glue that bonds fighting units together. They bring young soldiers along, inure them to the frightfulness they are about to witness, and teach them the practical things that keep them alive in the heat of battle."
Scales says that today's sergeants' willingness to stay in the service contrasts to 1972, when many of the NCOs left the service, dissatisfied with the war in Vietnam.
Iraq vs. Other Conflicts
As of Monday, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 3 years and 8 months. A comparison to other wars:
The Revolutionary War lasted for 8 years and 2 months.
The American Civil War lasted 4 years, ending on April 9, 1865.
The Spanish-American War began on February 15, 1898, and ended in the same year, on July 17.
World War I lasted 4 years and just under 5 months.
The U.S. role in World War II started in December of 1941; it ended with the Japanese surrender in 1945.
The U.S. involvement in Vietnam lasted well over a decade, until Saigon fell to North Vietnam on April 30, 1975.
Source: World Almanac and Book of Facts 2007