Sunday, May 14, 2006

Few and not so proud

Rep. John P. Murtha is continuing his assault on the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, asserting this week that the U.S. Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth."

The Pentagon and a senior Republican senator sharply disagreed with his assessment.

"The Army is not broken," Col. Joseph Curtin said. "Every day, our soldiers are making tremendous contributions in Iraq, in Afghanistan and more than 120 countries around the world.
Retention rates are at an incredibly all-time high, particularly in the active component."
-- Washington Times,
Murtha assesses Army as 'broken',
Dec. 2, 2005

Recruiters nationwide spend several hours a day cold-calling high school students, whose phone numbers are provided by schools under the No Child Left Behind Law.

Tracking by the Pentagon shows that complaints about recruiting improprieties are on pace to again reach record highs set in 2003 and 2004. Both the active Army and Reserve missed recruiting targets last year, and reports of recruiting abuses continue from across the country.

A family in Ohio reported that its mentally ill son was signed up, despite rules banning such enlistments and the fact that records about his illness were readily available.

And in Colorado, a high school student working undercover told recruiters he'd dropped out and had a drug problem. The recruiter told the boy to fake a diploma and buy a product to help him beat a drug test.

The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.

The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers...

Blocking reserve officers' resignations is one of several steps the Army has undertaken in recent years to keep soldiers beyond their original terms of service, as today's wars place unprecedented demands on the all-volunteer force. Under another practice, known as "stop-loss," thousands of active-duty Army and reserve soldiers have been temporarily prevented from leaving the military, either because their skills were needed or because their units were going overseas. As of January, more than 13,000 soldiers were being kept in the service under stop-loss, a policy criticized by some as a "backdoor draft," which the Army says it seeks to end.


some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.

These practices, which have received little public scrutiny and in some cases violate the military's own policies, have helped to fuel an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq

... at least 11 service members who committed suicide in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite exhibiting signs of significant psychological distress. In at least seven of the cases, superiors were aware of the problems....



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