Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Broken, De-Humanized Military in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 26 September 2006

While the deranged chicken-hawks who "lead" the US continue their
efforts to wage another unprovoked war of aggression, this time against
Iran, what's left of their already overstretched military continues to
be bled in Iraq.

When the situation is so critical that even the corporate media is
forced to report on it, you know it's bad. Last week on the NBC Nightly
News, General Barry McCaffrey, now retired, said of the current state of
the US military, "I think, arguably, it's the worst readiness condition
the US Army has faced since the end of Vietnam." This isn't a big
surprise when we consider the facts that many soldiers are already into
their third combat tour, frequent deployments have cut training time at
home in half, and two thirds of all Army combat units are rated not
ready for combat.

The fact that 60% of National Guard soldiers have already reached their
limit for overseas combat is most likely not going to slow down the
Cheney administration's lust for more war. Most likely, they'll just
have Rummy change the Pentagon's policy that currently limits Guard
combat tours to two out of every five years.

This change was apparently already expected by Lieutenant General Steven
Blum, of the National Guard, who told NBC, "If you think the National
Guard's busy today, I think we're going to look back and say 'these were
the good old days' in about three years." A comment to which General
McCaffrey responded: "More is being asked of them, particularly the
National Guard and reserve components, than they signed up to do. And in
the near-term, we think it's going to unravel."

That "near-term" seemed to be about 72 hours away from McCaffrey's
comments. On Monday, the Army announced that because it is stretched so
thin by the occupation of Iraq, it is once again extending the combat
tours of thousands of soldiers beyond their promised 12-month tours.
It's the second time since August (i.e., last month) that this has
occurred. The 1st Brigade Armored Division, which is having its tour
extended, just happens to be located in the province of Al-Anbar, which
the military has long since lost control of. Between 3,500 and 4,000
soldiers are affected by this decision.

The move prompted defense analyst Loren Thompson to tell reporters: "The
Army is coming to the end of its rope in Iraq. It simply does not have
enough active-duty military personnel to sustain the current level of

There are currently over 142,000 US soldiers in Iraq. Just last week
General John Abizaid, the top US commander in the region, said the
military is likely to maintain and possibly even increase its force
level in Iraq through next spring.

What does this look like for US troops on the ground in Iraq? Here is an
email I received just last week from a mother whose son is serving in
the US military in Ramadi:

/My son cannot bear what he is forced to do, and has probably through
sheer terror, confusion, and split-second decisions, killed innocent
civilians. He is well aware of this, and I have witnessed the
consequences first hand. He probably carries innocent blood on his
hands. The killing of innocent people is virtually unavoidable. He is in
Al-Anbar region. You are the ONLY person in the media who has responded
to my emails. The other emails I sent to news organizations questioning
why so little news out of Al-Anbar were unanswered. I believe that it is
because the US has lost that region, and is suppressing that news to the
American public. My son called me last week from Ramadi and said the war
is lost - they are just going thru the motions, again, forced to carry
out orders and risk their lives for an unobtainable and unjust goal. I
continue to read your web site, as well as others, while I pray for my
son's safe homecoming in spring./

Her anguish, the description of her son's mental state, and her son's
report of the conditions in Ramadi, tragic as they are, come as no
surprise. At the time of this writing, over 2,703 US soldiers have been
killed in Iraq, and over ten times that number wounded. This month, over
61 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. With an average of over
2.5 killed daily this month, at the time of this writing it's already
the third bloodiest month this year in Iraq for occupation forces.

Another report released last weekend from the Veterans Health
Administration found that over one third of Iraq and Afghanistan
veterans seeking medical treatment are reporting symptoms of stress or
other metal disorders. This is a tenfold increase in the last 18 months
alone. The dramatic jump in cases is attributed to the fact that more
troops are facing multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is of course complicated by the fact that veterans' groups claim
that the VA is not able to meet the growing demand for services.
Already, veterans have had to deal with long waits for doctor
appointments (oftentimes over six months), staffing shortages, and lack
of equipment at medical centers run by the VA.

The woman who sent me the email about her son gave me permission to
publish another email that shows clearly how the over-stretch of the
military in Iraq and multiple tours are affecting her son:

/ I have established contact with my son, thank God, and he writes to me
daily about Iraqi atrocities, and how he wants to wax them all. His
morale is low and he has a weak LT who is unable to keep up with the
pace required. I would love to share these emails with you, but I am
afraid. I'm afraid of the implications should this ever get out. I want
to do nothing to endanger my communications with my son. My impression
through my readings and contact with soldiers is that the Iraqis are
generally good people. The American occupation seems to be only making
things that much worse for the average Iraqi. My impression is that Iraq
is a country with no hope. No matter what is done, they will never have
a stable government, no matter what form it might take. From my son, I'm
able to glean the complete CHAOS Ramadi is in. It is hopeless. As a
mother, I want him to do whatever is necessary to come home, and will
not sugar-coat my thoughts: that he should kill everything and come
home. Naturally, not someone who is obviously an innocent civilian, but
how do you tell? How do you know who is innocent and who is a threat?
Therefore, he feels that daisy-cutting the town is the only option. Of
course this will not happen, and he's blowing smoke. However, it is an
indication of how bad things are there ... the struggle between the
Marines and the insurgents is never ending. The type of bomb now
employed by the insurgents (whoever they are) is frightening ... a metal
plate on the ground: when the Marine steps on it, it connects the
circuit and that boy is blown up. My son is running missions thru back
alleys ... and is hauling a machine gun that is destroying his back. He
is a slender young man, and the gear he is carrying is affecting his
health. He can run for miles, but not with a hundred pounds on him.
Already I hear such a hardness in his emails, such low morale, such
hopelessness, and he has only just begun this deployment (hopefully his
last ... his third)./

/ America is a great nation, compassionate to many, and is my homeland.
I am sickened at what is happening, and what my son is being made to do
as a Marine. Ultimately we have morphed into an empire. It breaks my
heart that my son may die on foreign soil fighting a useless war that
will only lead to more death and destruction .../

The longer the occupation of Iraq continues, more death and destruction
are two things all of us can count on. Along with a broken, bleeding
military that is being stretched even further each day, and the anxious
families of those serving, whose nerves and hearts are also being
stretched further each day.

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.


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