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Bush will restore military morale

 

“We have seen a steady erosion of American power, and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the Commander-in-Chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report “Not ready for duty, Sir”.”
George W. Bush in his 2000 RNC acceptance speech Watch video

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Gates announced that, in order to sustain President Bush’s “surge”, the tours of duty of all troops currently serving in Iraq have been extended an additional three months. Soldiers and their families responded to this latest stop-loss measure with “anger and frustration”. Now six+ years on, no longer can supporters of this administration blame Bill Clinton for the current state of our military or suggest “Republican leadership” is more beneficial to military readiness than with Democrats in charge. That myth has now been laid to rest.

When former covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson testified before Congress, she stated she never imagined she would be outed by her own government. Likewise, for those who believe there are currently no American military POW’s in Iraq, need to realize that today there is close to 100,000 American military POW’s currently being held against their will due to “stop loss” and extended tours of duty by their own government.

I’m always amazed by those few Republican “dead enders” that continue to make excuses and blame “everyone but” when it comes to George Bush’s disastrous presidency. It doesn’t help that their lone sources of information are partisan “water-carriers” like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh that pass off “opinion” as “news” and only present voices that confirm what their viewers/listeners already believe.

A “for instance”: one Progressive family friend found himself in a conversation with a Conservative family friend regarding the recent “Walter Reed” debacle (where recovering troops were housed in filthy, dilapidated, moldy, rat-infested out-patient quarters). Our Conservative friends’ defense was that “the building the soldiers were in were not part of the official Walter Reed medical complex” and “the building in question was scheduled to be demolished”. My like-minded Progressive friend, unaware of the exact facts, wasn’t sure how to respond. I told him that “it doesn’t matter if the building was in Timbuktu and scheduled for demolition the day after the story broke, the fact is, they were housing OUR VETERANS there and they deserve better.” He wishes he had thought of that at the time, but as so often the case, it’s often difficult to think of the right response off the top of your head when responding to someone that is simply parroting Right-Wing Talking Points.

An astounding 27% of all U.S. troops serving or served in President Bush’s “War on Terror” have served more than one tour of duty (each tour = one year). I even heard on the news last week that several of the troops involved in this “Surge” would be on their FIFTH tour of duty! That’s beyond obscene.

“Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments. Something has to give and it’s giving. Resources are overstretched. Frustration is up, as families are separated and strained. Morale is down. Recruitment is more difficult. And many of our best people in the military are headed for civilian life.”
 
– Presidential candidate George W. Bush, September 1999, criticizing Bill Clinton for overextending the military in deployments to places such as Bosnia and Kosovo.

Those who continue to blame President Clinton for the current state of our military readiness seem to be suggesting that he should of been engaging in a “wartime level” of military growth in the midst of the longest peacetime economic expansion in history. Iraq was a war of choice. There is no disputing that. Iraq was not an imminent threat and therefore, the invasion could of at least been delayed until the level of military readiness they deemed necessary was attained. But they didn’t. They invaded Iraq with an Army they themselves had described at “not ready for duty”. There was just no justification in the 1990’s for expanding the military to the fantastic size that would of been necessary to “democratize the Middle East” without over-extending the military and depleting its resources.

And be mindful of the fact that, no matter how large our military had been, it was Donald Rumsfeld’s “Lean & Mean” strategy of military nimbleness that helped put us in the position we find ourselves in today. While he was warned that “several hundred thousand” troops would be needed to invade and control Iraq following its collapse… and those troops WERE available, so it’s not like Rumsfeld was forced to go with fewer troops than he might had preferred… they chose to go with far fewer troops than was needed and glibly ridiculed those that disagreed with them (much like McCain ridiculed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer regarding the state of security in Baghdad).

“Restore Military Morale”. Not only are they extending the tours of duty of all soldiers from 12 to 15 months, they are cutting back on downtime between redeployments as well as reducing the length of training before their first deployment. And, so desperate for recruits have they become, that the U.S. military has issued a record number of “moral waivers”, allowing recruits with histories of drug abuse and criminal backgrounds to represent the United States overseas as soldiers. No wonder a growing number of troops say that once their tours have ended, “I’m out of here.”

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