How the Bush Administration REALLY Treats Soldiers

Below I quote a very disturbing story from the Army of Dude blog by Alex Horton, a 22 year old from Frisco, Texas.

Last week I heard a story of official blackmail similar to this one from a friend who is a reserve officer regarding the treatment of some career officers he knows — so this blackmail isn't limited to the enlisted ranks.

Army of Dude: Happy Dependence Day!: Four years of war and this Army is a skeleton of its former self. Equipment is broken or obsolete, thousands are dead and wounded and many of us can’t wait to get off the Hindenburg. For awhile, deployments were kept to a year, with at least twelve months back home to recuperate, to get new equipment, to bury the dead. To keep the surge going, deployments have been extended to fifteen months to keep the year at home from shrinking down to nine or less months. The number of people getting out was devastating, so the Army needed a new plan to keep people in. New slogan and advertising campaign? Check. Stop loss program? Check. Bigger bonuses? Check. Guaranteeing non-deployable positions at training posts and recruiting stations, acknowledging people are scared stiff to go to Iraq? Check. Still the numbers are low. After watching too many 80s gang movies, someone thought of such a simple, foolproof idea: good ol’ fashioned blackmail.

Before we left Baghdad, the re-enlistment briefs got a little more disturbing. Instead of letting you know what a bum you’ll become if you leave the Army after your enlistment, they put it in simple terms: if you don’t re-enlist, you’ll be thrown in 5th Brigade, the Stryker unit on Ft. Lewis that was being stood up, and yes, they were deploying as soon as they could. So you might as well stay where your friends are and come back to Iraq with them. Otherwise, you’ll be taking your chances by getting your ass stop-lossed and sent to Iraq in as little as six months to a year after you returned. Better off with the sure thing. Here’s a pen, junior. If you got out after July 2008, you were screwed. I, on the other hand, was in the clear since I was getting out at the end of 2007. The options were re-enlist, extend to meet the unit’s needs, or take no action. I checked take no action, which meant my name would be added to the pool of possible candidates for 5th Brigade. No matter. It was of no consequence if I separated from the Army in 3rd or 5th Brigade. A lot of us were in that boat. Still, it spooked us that someone could come to us with a list and a smile and say in so many words that we were fucked into another deployment unless we added years to our contracts. In short, the thanks we got for serving our country was being forced into a game of Russian Roulette. Take the risk, pull the trigger. See what happens.

I suggest you tell this story the next time anyone dares suggest that anything short of calling for withdrawal amounts to “supporting the troops.”

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4 Responses to How the Bush Administration REALLY Treats Soldiers

  1. confused says:

    I don’t understand the logic of why Bush is to blame here.

    If I understand the soldier (I assume michael stands behind this guy…many of these hyped soldier’s stories have turned out to be fakes) correctly, he basically feels he has either a legal or moral obligation to a full year of downtime in between deployments. I don’t necessarily believe this is correct, but that’s an argument for another day. Assume he is correct.

    The problem, at its core, is we don’t have enough troops. Which means we either didn’t have enough to begin with, not enough are enlisting, not enough are re-enlisting, or we are not receiving enough capable foreign support. Whatever the case, the military is being forced to take steps to make sure that when troops are deployed that enough are sent to ensure that they are effective (as best they can). Being short, they are forced to shorten downtime by sending those near the end of their enlistment back into the fray.

    So where exactly does Bush come into play? Implicitly, some other commander in chief, having committed to military action, would treat the troops differently given the current situation? Suppose a democrat comes to power, and decides to surrender Iraq to the insurgents. Most (notably Hillary) has acknowledged that a troop presence would still be required during such a surrender process. Now suppose the military still faces a shortage of troops necessary to safely implement the surrender. Would Hillary recognize that the soldier in question here is “due” his full 12 months off, and not send him back, even where his comrades need his support? I think not. I hope not. I really don’t get his argument. Didn’t he agree to play russian roulette by enlisting in the first place? Even during peacetime, military training itself is dangerous.

    If we’re going to ask why we don’t have enough troops, can we really blame Bush? Sure he started the war in Iraq in the first place…but isn’t it expected that enlistment and re-enlistment will drop in wartime regardless of the cause? Isn’t that why a draft is resorted to sometimes? So aside from prosecuting a war, is Bush actively discouraging enlistment and re-enlistment, intentionally? Of course not. Are certain members of the media and celebrity corps actively discouraging enlistment and re-enlistment, absolutely yes. How many young people have been influenced by Cindy Shehan, Michael Moore, Carl Levin, fake troop testimonials in the blogosphere, John Kerry…?

    Is Bush blameless, no. Is the Left blameless, no. Both sides are to blame for the shortage of troops. And of course we can’t forget B.Clinton for his ludicrous don’t ask don’t tell policy discouraged republican lesbians like myself from enlisting.

  2. paperwight says:

    Wow, confused is really going full on DolchstossBroder here. Apparently, the Republicans elect to launch an invasion and occupation of a country that (a) wasn’t doing anything to us, (b) has ground down occupying armies for a couple hundred years, and (c) which they knew was going to turn into a complete clusterfuck (see Cheney, 1990s, all non-compromised general staff, 2002). They lied about the reasons for doing so. They lied about the effort, money, and personnel that would be required. They fired anyone in the chain of command who tried to respond with even a whiff of sanity.

    In doing so, they basically break the military in any number of ways, including the rest, recuperation, and repair bargain that was struck as a matter of military policy in the US (and let us not forget, this is a purely elective occupation — we have no real reason to be in Iraq). The Army (according to Army of Dude) responds by basically telling anyone who wants to let their hitch expire: screw you, we’ll transfer you out of your unit and into the next unit rotating back to the sandbox, no matter how vulnerable it is or whether it’s related to your MOS AND we’ll stoploss you, so you’ll basically be a slave until you get wounded so badly that you have to be shipped home in the middle of the night on a gurney or in a box.

    And somehow, a few lefties share the blame for this because they think that this invasion and occupation is a mistake, and they say so? So, it’s not spending 15 months in the sandbox, where you NEVER have a safe moment, where your friends are having limbs blown off, where your friends are dying, where you can’t really trust anyone except people in your uniform, where there’s no front, no defined enemy, no clear mission, and no clear way out. It’s not that stuff. It’s effing FAT MICHAEL MOORE and CRAZY CINDY SHEEHAN, and SWIFT BOAT JOHN KERRY! That’s who needs some blame! Those are some fine-ass talking points.

    And then the Clinton-blaming? So, somehow, if Clinton had been MORE of a lefty and just eliminated the prohibition on serving, somehow that would have made things better? Never mind that it is the exact same people who don’t want the fags in the army who dragged us into this trainwreck.

    Seriously, confused isn’t, but s/he is really tapdancing hard to somehow shift blame to anyone except the people who are actually responsible for Iraq.

  3. Michael says:

    1. The buck stops where?

    2. Please cite a major TV address in which Bush has encouraged enlistment. Just one will do.

    3. What paperwight said…

  4. LACJ says:

    Is it standard obfuscation of the underlying point? Or true and utter cluelessness? Americans want to know!

    I just can’t bother to break down all of the logical errors and mis-statements. There’s too many of them, Jim! The prose is just too dense, like last year’s Christmas fruitcake.

    I would like to make one point, which is that, when contemplating war, one should realistically assess the number of soldiers one has, and tailor one’s strategy accordingly. Not embark on some pie in the sky ‘plan’ involving immediate capitulation by the enemy. And one should realize that recruitment will suffer if things don’t go well, or last too long.

    We all know exactly where the bucks stops, but some are just deeply in denial. It is sad, really.

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