Ill-Serving Those Who Serve
Published: July 6, 2004
Although it has long been obvious that American ground forces would be overstretched by commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and elsewhere, the administration has resisted Congressional efforts to enlarge the Army permanently to cover projected needs — by most estimates, that means 20,000 to 40,000 more people. Such an expansion would cost as much as $10 billion and would need to be accounted for in the more than $400 billion military budget. To date, most of the cost of the Iraq war has not been paid from the military budget, but from nearly $100 billion in so-called supplemental funds. An additional "supplemental" of at least $25 billion is expected for fiscal year 2005. This type of accounting ensures that politicians' pet weapons projects do not have to compete for funds with the cost of more soldiers. Just slowing down the deployment of the Rube Goldberg ballistic-missile defense system would pay for a lot of soldiers.
In the meantime, overworked soldiers get orders for extended and multiple tours, even as new evidence shows that one in six soldiers who returned home from earlier tours in Iraq is showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or other severe emotional difficulties. If the Army persists in these extended tours and rapid-fire redeployments, the cost could be a drop in morale and in recruitment and re-enlistment rates. In general, Americans are made more vulnerable as soldiers are pulled out of the nuclear-armed Korean peninsula to serve in Iraq and are diverted from a real war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
The military argues that while the need for more soldiers is immediate, staffing and equipping new permanent divisions would take nearly two years — and that by then, they might not be needed. That is the same type of hope-for-the-best planning that caused this disaster.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The leadership at the Pentagon is a bunch of amateurs. And I'm talking the leadership at the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff too. I'm ashamed to admit that Dick Myers is Air Force. What a fucking moron. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are even worse. At least Myers is a general, even though he's played the Washington game too long. Hint to Kerry: Replace the assholes at OJCS with flag officers who have tried to avoid Washington all their lives. You know them John, you served with them, the guys you'd walk willingly into Hell with because you know they'd do their best to get you back out the other side. Not these guys, whose priority is the Georgetown party circuit.