Saturday, July 12, 2003

I've been trying to write a post about an Army cadence for about 40 minutes, but accidents keep mappening and wiping my text, so I'll take the hint and cut straight to my point.

The U.S. Army is getting fucked over by George w. Bush.

Now, Bush's dad and Dick Cheney fucked the Army over before. I know, I was there. Multiple deployments, usually during the Winter Holidays, to real nasty places to fight wars that didn't really directly affect us (remember when we invaded a sovereign nation to arrest its president because we didn't like him?). Ronald Reagan had cut the pensions of military retirees and George sr. and Dick cut things like recreation centers (do you know what there is to do in the middle of the Mojave? Nothing), improvements to the housing of enlisted men, etc. Then, right after the first Gulf War, they cut the size of the army - mainly by changing the rules to force out soldiers before they could retire. This was mainly done by a) making it very difficult to get promotions and b) requiring those promotions before you could retire.

Then Cheney had the gall to tell the military 'help is on the way'! Ha! When Bush sr. and Cheney were in charge my raises didn't keep pace with inflation.

Now we've got the army in Iraq again. And the war was not fought as a 'flexible force', it was fought on the cheap. It costs more money to ship tanks, so ship fewer tanks seems to be the real philosophy behind the force structure. Why do you want tanks? Its harder to kill guys in tanks. If the forces in Iraq for Iraq 2: Electric Boogaloo had been a standard mix, casualties would have been lighter and the operations wouldn't have taken any longer (remember how forces had to 'maneuver into position' - that was CYA talk for 'mass enough force to fight'. Tanks would have been as fast).

Another idiot move made to save money was the whole 'shock and awe' idea. "We'll scare them into quitting!" said the 'experts'. I was an intelligence spook in a tactical spook unit for over 6 years - when I heard the 'shock and awe' concept years before GWII:EB, I laughed. A buddy of mine named Scotty said it best, "There's a name for big explosions in the air that don't damage targets, and that name is 'fireworks'." The idea that the leaders would surrender in the face of no damage was discounted by military officers from the beginning.

Until, of course, Rumsfeld and Wolf O' Wits decided it was cool. Rumsfeld, by the way, never served in the military (although he was a councilor to Nixon). Wolfowitz, another hawk, also never wore a uniform nor carried a rifle. Both are flat-out eager to send others to die, however.

These two men, with only academic knowledge of combat, predicted that grateful Iraqis would welcome us with open arms ans we strolled into a Baghdad filled with cowering leaders so overwhelmed by airbursts that they were too afraid to fight.

Ah, well. In the business world, they'd be fired. In the military world, they'd be removed from command. In Washington, they're "leaders".

So now our soldiers sit in Iraq. Suicide bombers detonate themselves in the midst of kids from Iowa. Guys from Maine and Kentucky and Arizona are shot in the head while buying a coke on a hot day. Men who married their high school sweethearts haven't seen their wives, or their children, for six, nine, sometimes twelve months. Women with young children haven't held them or kissed them for just as long. All are watching Iraqis and wondering which one is going to try to kill them.

Try to imagine that. You just fought your way into Iraq. You are far from home. And every day someone might kill you while you are eating, or sleeping, or taking a leak, or talking to your friend. Back home, when a reporter asks the president about the danger you are in, he replies 'Bring 'em on". He's 7 time zones away. No one is shooting at him. His best friend wasn't turned into a stain and a pair of dogtags by a suicide bomber yesterday. He sees his wife and his kids every day. He sleeps in a bed, and eats three hot meals, and takes a shower every day. He doesn't have to wait in line for three hours (wondering if he's going to get killed) to call his mother for 5 minutes on her birthday.

Some of these soldiers have no mission anymore - there is literally nothing for them to do except risk death. They aren't being brought home. Rumsfeld has said that the units there will stay there 'because they are experienced'. They are also tired and emotionally exhausted. They have been misled about when they are coming home so many times they don't trust their leaders anymore (of course, their leaders were lied to - excuse me, 'misled' - all the way up).

You know what I think the reason is that these soldiers aren't being rotated? It costs money to swap troops. By leaving these tired, drained soldiers in Iraq the DoD can save some cash. Of course, many of the soldiers (those that live) will change their minds and not re-enlist - the lies, fear, and separation will make sure of that. So new, inexperienced people will be needed. Good thing the economy is bad; in bad times its easier to replace troops since people gotta' eat.

Of course, there is another danger. Tired troops can make mistakes. Scared troops can make mistakes. Emotionally exhausted troops can make mistakes. As time goes on, they may start to hate the Iraqis, seeing them as both the source of their fear (death) and the reason they are far from home (the war). If we leave these same troops over there long enough in bad enough conditions with no end in sight, every day increases the chance that someone will overreact and commit an atrocity like firing on a crowd of civilians, or using a grenade to 'clear a room' full of kids. With the level of training, leadership, and just plain old quality of modern American soldiers this is very unlikely. But if it does happen, they'll be left out to dry and Runsfeld will have something grave and statesman-like to say about it.

"Help is on the way" indeed.

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