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Troop Abuse

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I was recently reminded of my September 2004 prediction that Bush would initiate a military draft in 2005. It appears I was wrong. I gave the ChickenHawks too much credit for doing the right thing. I reasoned—if President Bush wants to continue his war; he will need soldiers to replace those who have already risked life and limb for our country.

Every reason I gave at that time for needing a draft is even truer today. Our military was over-extended then and is even more so now. The insurgency has escalated, and many members of our so-called coalition have had enough and called their troops home. Thousands of American troops have been lost to death, injury, and illness. The Army cannot meet its enlistment quotas—even with more recruiters, lowered aptitude standards, a bigger advertising budget, and increased incentives.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the need for a military draft, the Bush Administration has steadfastly refused to take that step. How can they continue to make war without an adequate supply of cannon-fodder? It is easy, if you are a compassionate conservative.

Apparently, the compassionate conservative plan is to rotate the same people in and out of Iraq again and again—until they are killed or wounded so badly they are no longer of any use to the Bush war machine. If they are only wounded, physically or mentally—Heaven help them because Bush and the Republican Congress are too busy cutting their benefits to do anything to help them.

“In Iraq, the United States is pushing the military to the limit—maybe beyond. According to the Department of Defense, 1.1 million American service personnel had served in Iraq or Afghanistan (mostly in Iraq) by the end of June. Almost 300,000 of those have now served more than one tour. Some have gone overseas three times.” -- Mark Benjamin,, 10/10/05

“Part-time soldiers—Army national guardsmen and reservists—who often have handled support roles, not frontline combat roles, are slightly more likely to have served more than one deployment to the conflict zones than regular Army members.” --Monica Davey, The New York Times, 12/20/04

“Seven months ago, my service in the army was to have terminated. Instead, I am in Iraq for the second time. I sit next to a DOD contractor whose job is identical to mine. Except he makes $120,000 more, works four hours less, and visits home four times more often than I do.” --Daniel Goetz, currently serving in Samarra, Iraq, Operation Truth, 10/14/05

If you can’t get enough people to enlist, and you refuse to use the draft; you have to keep the troops you have. The Bush Administration does this in a number of ways. In June 2004, they issued a “stop-loss” order that forced thousands of soldiers to stay in the service, even though their contractual commitments had been fulfilled. They also called up more than 4000 people who had served their hitch and had been honorably discharged. It seems that upon being discharged, you remain in the Individual Ready Reserve for the remainder of an 8-year commitment. It is rare for these people to be called up; but this is BushWorld, and no sacrifice is too great for his noble cause.

Incentives can be offered:
“[Soldiers of Fort Carson, Colorado’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team] were told to reenlist for three more years or be transferred to units deploying for Iraq. These all-volunteer active-duty soldiers suddenly find themselves involuntarily restrained until 2007.” --Sheila Samples,, 10/26/04 (I wonder if they are in Iraq yet.)

“The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle).” --Les Blumenthal, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington), 10/16/05

“National Guardsmen returning from duty in Iraq are finding that the funds promised them for tuition reimbursement are in short supply. The federal program that is supposed to defray up to 75 percent of their college expenses is broke, with no new funds in sight until this fall.” --AP, 4/4/04

Malingering cannot be tolerated:
“[The Guardian] learned of soldiers who were deployed with almost willful disregard to their medical histories, and with the most cursory physical examinations. Soldiers went to war with chronic illnesses such as coronary disease, mental illness, arthritis, diabetes and the nervous condition, Tourette's syndrome, or after undergoing recent surgery.” --Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 4/3/04

After predicting a “Bush Draft”, I got several emails, informing me that it was the Democrats who were pushing for a draft—not Bush. They didn’t need to bother—I was well aware that Democrats had introduced bills to reinstate the draft; and I knew exactly why they did it.
“Rep. Rangel (NY) and 13 other Democrats introduced the bill prior to the war in Iraq. Rangel believes the all-voluntary military is an unjust form of military conscription that draws primarily from the economically disadvantaged. He also believes the U.S. would be more cautious about going to war if everyone's son or daughter had an equal likelihood of being called upon to fight.” -- Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), 2/23/05

…but it wasn’t only democrats:
“Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and influential member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wants the United States to consider reviving the draft as part of a broader effort to ensure that all Americans "bear some responsibility, ... pay some price" in defending the nation's interests.” --Helen Dewar, The Washington Post, 4/22/04

If a threat is so imminent, or cause so noble, that America is compelled to go to war; we should all have to share the burden. The next time politicians want to take America into war, we should insist that their children be on the front line. If it is not worth the lives of their children, it is not worth the lives of anyone’s children.
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Mick Youther is an American citizen, an independent voter, a veteran, a parent, a scientist, a writer, and all-around nice guy who has been roused from a comfortable apathy by the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Administration.

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