From my own experiences, I can tell you that Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines all bitch about their leaders. They bitch about living in sand storms. They bitch about cold fake eggs for breakfast. They bitch about carrying a 40 pound ruck through the rain. They bitch about everything. Everything. Why shouldn't they? Life in the military is tough. And, as Greyhawk points out, it also won't get any better unless someone complains.
I can also tell you that most complaints are said with a dry sense of humor. When everyone suffers, it's almost humorous. When one suffers, it's detrimental to morale.
But I would bet you that, even with all of the complaining, the vast majority wouldn't say that their morale would decrease the effectiveness of the mission. Most would follow their leaders into hell if required (although they would probably bitch about the temperature).
I'll tell you what I think is the greatest fear of every Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, or Marine overseas and what would be the greatest detriment to troop morale - to be forgotten.
That's why I post about things that YOU can do to help the troops.
That's why the Ohio Patriot Plan is important to those deployed soldiers who will return to the Buckeye State.
That's why Phil Carter at Intel Dump is going to bat for mistreated soldiers. Some of you helped me to join a similar effort against Country Insurance.
You have the power to ensure that we won't lose the War on Terror. As long as those troops who are fighting for us know that they will come back to a greatful nation, their morale might be low at times but it won't take them out of the fight.
Update: Jennifer sends this question and link about someone running for President of the United States of America
What do you think this did to troop morale in Viet Nam?Well, Jennifer, I am not a Viet Nam vet, but I doubt that it did anything positive for anyone.
One final note, I served under Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. In my opinion, President Clinton was by far the worse for morale. Any in the Special Operations community will tell you that they believed that Clinton exhibited scorn for the military. Clinton was the epitome of the Cut-N-Run president - one that we hope won't return, ever.
We just ask that, if you commit us to a fight, you commit us to win that fight. I doubt that John Kerry, whether flexing with the opinion polls or his own non-decisive nature, could really make that committment.