Wednesday, December 8, 2004

This kills me

Via Atrios from a Guardsman in Iraq:

[. . .]

When he enlisted, he explained, the major emphasis of the recruiter was on the college education. Nothing was said about the possibility of war, let alone deployment in an optional pre-emptive action halfway around the world.

He was assigned to traveling up and down the highways to locate roadside bombs. It was a dangerous mission and the equipment was inadequate. Instead of an armored vehicle, he was assigned a heavy gravel truck insulated with boxes of sand. Not only was he in constant danger of running over bombs but he was a ready target for snipers along the road.

"I told my family and friends nothing about what I do," he wrote. "I don't want to worry them because to me that is the worst part - having loved ones worried about us."

When he was eligible to take leave, he declined. "We knew everyone wasn't going to get leave so I figured I was young with no girlfriend or real need to go home," he explained. "So I volunteered not to go so someone else would have the opportunity."

[. . .]


During six years on active duty and two in the Active Reserves, I worked with my share of Guard weenies. They were some of the best trained and highly motivated troops I've had the honor to serve with. Most notably, an element of 11th Special Forces that had us chasing shadows for a week. Thing is, the Guard's role is doing the bidding of the governor of their respective states. They are there to keep the peace in cases of civil unrest, aid their neighbors during natural disasters, and augment the regular active duty forces in case they are needed.

The way they are being used in Iraq hampers them from accomplishing their two primary missions. I'm sure none of the Guardsmen would object to being activated to protect our homeland from attack, but these people have jobs. They have lives and budgets that don't allow for them to be placed on active duty for a year or more. It's not what they signed on for.

Not only are Guardsmen's lives being wasted, but lives are being destroyed here. They are committed to help their fellow Americans, but they sure as hell didn't agree to go bankrupt, sure as hell didn't plan to live on a GI salary for years at a time. Think about this. If you're making a hundred grand a year, with 2 kids and a wife, and a mortgage and taxes to match, how do you keep your head above water when you're suddenly making 28 thou a year?

This is unconscionable what they're doing to these people and their families, all for a misbegotten war under an inept leadership. Bush and his cabinet should be tried for war crimes.

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