Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Standardized Stop-Loss

Posted by --Blue Girl at 4/11/2007 05:37:00 PM

On January 29th, Defense Secretary Robert Gates enjoyed a lot of favorable press when he announced that the military would no longer rely on stop-loss policies and extended deployments to keep troop numbers up. He instructed all of the heads of the branches of service to submit plans to him by 28 February detailing how they would cope with this new reality of having to honor that sacred date circled on kitchen calendars throughout the land.

Well, it was nice while it lasted. Secretary Gates held another press conference today. Now all tours are being extended. All - as in every last one - all. Every U.S. Army soldier who deploys to a combat zone in either Iraq or Afghanistan, or who is currently deployed, is there for 15 months. (It used to be 12.)

Now see, it isn’t that people who think like I do are defeatists. In fact, I'm getting real damned sick of having that charge leveled and my patriotism questioned. I have had no part in abrogating the Constitution, destroying the United States fighting forces or trashing civil liberties, so I'm not the one whose patriotism should be questioned.


No, me and the people like me are much worse than defeatists…We are realists. Realists are a hell of a lot harder to dismiss than defeatists. I’m not wringing my hands over here – I’m pointing to GAO reports, and the white papers from think-tanks, and to the reports from war-game exercises like Desert Crossings.

There is a reckoning on its way. I take no pleasure in that fact, but that I take no pleasure in it does not palliate reality. The load we are asking our military to bear is unsustainable. General Powell is right – the Army is damned near broken. If reality is not addressed immediately, the damage is going to be vast and devastating.

It took 30 years for men like my husband to rebuild the military in the wake of Vietnam. It took a long time to build a professional force and get rid of the unfit to serve. It wasn’t that hard to get in – but it wasn’t that easy to stay in, either. Up-or-Out. Now standards are being relaxed, to the point where fully 17% of all recruits are admitted on waivers.

Couple all of these hinky troops with a lack of leadership that is resulting from a depleted officer corps – the Army is missing 3500 officers throughout the ranks, and the Army Reserves are missing over 11,000 Lieutenants and Captains – and you have a force that is compromised to it’s very core.

If U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq today, we are looking at a 20-year rebuilding cycle, at the very least. If we stay another year, it might take 50 years to repair and restore. It is that serious, people. (Unfortunately, only about 2% of Americans actually *get* that.)

The Iraq war was half-assed from the outset. Because it was done on the cheap with less than half the troops that would have been needed, now it isn’t salvageable. Period.

And don’t blame me, just because I'm smart enough to read the writing on the wall. I have been right about absolutely everything from the get-go, and dismissed for having the audacity to be right. (How dare I?!?!?) I realize that is absolutely infuriating if you happen to disagree with me, but c’est la vie! Take it up with the geniuses who have failed miserably at absolutely every damned thing for the last six years. If you think I am going to apologize for being right, you're freakin' nuts.

Accept reality: Nobody is going to "follow us home." That is a lie. It is also a lie when the president says that the congress is not funding the troops – they certainly are – it is the president who stubbornly insists that he will not sign the bill because it has something in there about demanding accountability - something of which he has no concept.

To which I say "Tough shit, aWol. Deal."