Bush’s troops ‘bushed’ at mission demands

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-110735857221369.jpg’, ”, ‘President George W. Bush’);

A month before George W. Bush painted a verbal picture of his imperial ambitions in his second inaugural address, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve, gave the country a dose of reality.

In a leaked memo, he outlined the Reserve’s “inability under current policies, procedures and practices…to meet mission requirements associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Army Reserve,” he wrote, “is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements and is rapidly degenerating into a broken force.”

Gen. Helmly said what he termed “dysfunctional policies” are causing an acute crisis, and the Reserve’s ability to deploy troops is declining daily.

The 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are composed of a volunteer army that arose when the draft ended during the Vietnam War. More than 40 pecent of the forces in Iraq are National Guard and Reserves. Most have served two tours of duty and are being compelled through a back-door draft, to serve a third tour.

As might be expected in such circumstances, re-enlistment is plunging. It was down 30 percent last year. The Pentagon tried to justify the enforced service by telling Congress it is just a short-term answer and would be abandoned after Iraq is stabilized and Iraqi security forces take over.

This past week, however, the Pentagon said U.S. troop strength would remain unchanged through next year.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said: “I don’t know where these troops are coming from. It’s mystifying. There’s no policy to deal with the fact we have a military in extremis.”

Bush, in his speech, called for “ending tyranny in all the world,” ignored the strapped condition of his armies. The speech had many images of vengeance and destruction. The neocons around the president were delighted. Others regarded his speech as messianic.

Sidney Blumenthal, writing in The Guardian/UK, declared: “The administration has no strategy for Iraq or for the coerced American army plodding endlessly across the desert.”

He added: “Rep. Tauscher wonders when the House Armed Services Committee, along with the rest of the Congress, will learn anything from the Bush administration that might be considered factual. “They are never persuaded by the facts. Nobody can tell you what their plan is and they don’t feel the need to have one,” Tauscher said (commondreams.org).

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