I served in the Army when the draft was going on, hot and heavy. The guys were usually older than I was. Most of them were draftee’s. I enlisted at 17 because school became “boring” for me, and my Dad said either stay in school or go into the Army. It was January 1968. Not a good time to drop out of school. During that time there were two Armies. One was the Sergeants and Officers, and the other were the lower enlisted guys. We hated each other because of the Vietnam thing. Many “lifers” were from the South. The draftees were from all over. In Vietnam, guys had to watch out for the higher enlisted and the officers, as well as the enemy. We had race riots too. It was rough to watch out for all of the things that could go wrong on you. I served three tours in Korea, where there were “incidents” that never made the papers because of Vietnam. There the E-6's and the Officers stayed to themselves and the Privates through Buck Sergeants ran the show. It was like the wild west.
I got out of the Army three times. The first time after seven years. Then I reenlisted in 1975 after a year of selling insurance and boredom. I stayed another four years and got out again because under Carter, I was a Sergeant with a wife and two kids and I was on food stamps. After a tour in Germany, I got out for eight years. I then joined the Army National Guard and to my surprise they offered me a full-time spot as a recruiter. I went back on active duty and retired in 1995. All my life I was a liberal and a Democrat. (Not A Dem now) It never seemed to matter that in the Army. I protested in 1971 at West Potomac Park and John Kerry (I believe it was him) saw me in my fatigues (work uniform) and asked me if I was active duty and whether or not I had a security clearance. I told him yes and that I had a secret clearance and about ten guys got my friends and I into my firebird and they picked it up and put it out it on the street and told me to do watch the guys at the intersections. There were men in fatigue shirts with walkie-talkies, and they told me what direction to take, and I was out of Washington in about 20 minutes. The Federal Marshals came on horseback with billy clubs and their white helmets and arrested everyone and put them behind chicken wire in a big detainment camp, I was lucky to see it on TV, and not up close and personal.
Now the Army is in trouble. This criminal that stole the election from Gore I believe was somehow involved in 9/11. Even if he wasn’t he used it as a pretext to go to war with Iraq. He made Iraq and Al-Qaeda synonymous. People believed him, or they didn’t dare to oppose him because at the time he was gearing this nation towards war, it was not “politically correct” to be against the war. I remember almost getting into fistfights when this all started. It reminded me of the stories my old German friends told me about Hitler.
Meanwhile these guys are fighting another war with no battle lines in a conventional way. They have 4-runners with RPG’s and fifty caliber machine guns in the back that can outrun an Abrams. They have kids that will strap on a 40lb. pack of explosives and blow themselves up in markets and checkpoints. The Generals have openly said to Congress that the Army is broken. What a horrific thing to say! They torture people at Abu Graib and a female E-4 gets charged and they don’t Court-martial anyone over the rank of E-5! Do they expect us to believe that nobody above Buck Sergeant was in charge of the biggest jail in Iraq? I know for a fact that there were senior NCO’s and officers that were implicated. What a cover-up and nobody in Congress or the press ever questioned this. The Army just doesn’t let Specialists go without supervision and torture people.
Meanwhile every time some soldier gets wounded they medivac them out immediately, the worse the injury, the sooner they are on a flight to Ramstein, Germany. Even if the wound is mortal they will put him or her at the front of the line to try to get the soldier in the air as fast as possible. This is so that he or she won’t die in Iraq and then they won’t be counted as a casualty of that war. Then on another note, because of the rapid care and state-of-the-art field hospitals, soldiers that would have died in Vietnam are living with horrendous wounds and the number of amputees is astronomical. Disgustingly, the Bush administration cuts the VA Prosthetics budget by 70%! This is the thanks that soldiers get for serving their country. This administration earmarks Walter Reed for closure in the middle of a war and diverts funds to other areas and acts surprised when the public finds decrepit conditions!
Everyone knows about what has happened. The torture of prisoners of war. The arrest without the writ of habeas corpus. The wiretapping of American citizens. This is Congresses mess to fix. The other side of the coin is what has been done to the Army itself! The Army has been understaffed, underpaid, the facilities for war-wounded soldiers is shameful. The amount of soldiers with PTSD is so great and the facilities that treat them are so limited that soldiers are sometimes put on a six-month waiting list to be seen. The equipment has been sub-standard. The current weapon the Army M-4 Carbine, will not operate when dirty and the Army knows this. This is the same complaint that the M-16 got in Vietnam. It took years to fix that problem. Here we have the exact same issue and the Army hasn’t learned a thing!
The blame in not the Administration’s alone. Sure, they are an evil mix of criminals, but they have not acted alone. Complicity in these crimes are shared by the men in charge of the Army. The Generals, the field commanders, the National Guard Adjutant Generals that send their troops to fight a war with inferior equipment. These people should also be charged. The JAG Corps in every branch of the service should be looking into bringing these so-called leaders to justice for dereliction of duty. They have a duty to protect the men and women that serve under them. To take units that are under strength and throw a few untrained reservists into them does not make a qualified well-trained unit. Yes, the Army is broken. The lesson here is when Generals testify to Congress that the Army is broken, Congress should do what it can to rectify the situation.
If Congress can not rectify the situation by either starting the draft again (that would take too much time to do any good), or to draft a bill to pull our troops out of harm’s way. It is incumbent on them to find a way to alleviate the plight of the Army. Simple as that. Congress should pass a bill for immediate withdrawal from Iraq because of the deteriorating situation that the US Army is facing. If the President insists on a veto, then the President is not doing his duty as Commander-in-Chief and he should be impeached. That is what the Constitution provides us with in this situation. If Congress won’t impeach the President then it is incumbent on the leadership of the Army to start Court Martial proceedings under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and to put him on trial for dereliction of duty.
This is that serious. The President and the Vice President have pushed this Army to the limit. If the General Staff testifies to Congress that the Army is broken, than it is criminal for the government not to alleviate the situation. The issue here is pride. Pride and ego of the two men that started this disaster. Bush knows that the terrorists won’t “follow us home”. The two Muslim sects will be too busy killing each other. Al Qaeda won’t use Iraq as a training ground as it did in Afghanistan. The Iraqi’s don’t like foreigners. After we leave the Iraqi’s will get rid of them by themselves, but as long as we are there and they fight against us, they will be welcome. The war in Afghanistan is being lost. If we truly were fighting Al-Qaeda, that’s where we would be. Still, you and I know that all the death and destruction is about oil, and the big defense contracts that the government hands out to Bush and Cheney’s friend’s.
Meanwhile, in their lust for power and profit, they just assumed that the Army would just do what it was told. Now, with Rumsfeld gone, Defense Secretary Gates has actually said that a timetable for leaving Iraq might be a good idea. This man is no fool. He has inherited a no-win situation and he does not want to be charged as a co-conspirator. Now McCain, has been singing bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran to the tune of Barbara Ann. Is this some kind of sick, morbid joke? I truly believe that McCain has early onset Alzheimer’s. The things that he says have been unbelievable. Invading or even attacking Iran would not solve a thing. If Bush and Cheney want their oil, they should just buy it with the money they would save instead of attacking them. Think of all the oil we could have bought with $420,000,000,000.00 (billion) that we have spent on this Iraqi debacle.
Meanwhile, besides seeing our constitutional rights discarded by criminals of the worst kind, I see the organization that I served with for 21 years be treated like a crippled step-child. The young men who were just boys a few years ago are being sent to die for a nation that tries to cover their deaths up. We have young men and women that joined the army out of love of their country and the promise of a trade, or money for their education because they can’t pay tuition because this Administration cut the student loan programs. Their parents are working stiffs, trying to feed their families working two jobs because Dad’s job got “outsourced”. I know, I recruited these young men and women in better times. I know why they join. They don’t join to be sent to die for a war nobody believes in and nobody wanted. Vietnam was like yesterday to me. I still remember that writing on the latrine wall at Ft. Lewis while I waited to go overseas. It read “Wars will never end until the power of love is greater than the love of power”. I hope that the guy who wrote that made it home from that other senseless war. I wish they all could make it home.