Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Army is scraping the bottom of the barrel

Joseph Galloway

An Army already stretched painfully thin is now being asked to find the additional 25,000-plus troops to man President Bush's escalation in Iraq and, it's now obvious, prepare for additional combat rotations next year.

All the easy sweeping up of manpower already has been done. All the obvious moves to rob Peter to pay Paul have been carried out just to keep this unending war going.

You shouldn't rob Peter to pay Paul. It makes Peter sore and you can't do business with a sore Peter!

That might be one solution to the scandalous treatment of soldiers on outpatient status at Walter Reed Army Hospital - rate them good to go and send them back to Iraq.

The Army, that once-magnificent Army we counted on as our shield in a dangerous world, is being bled to death in the streets and on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Politicians only now are talking about adding 100,000 more soldiers to the Army and Marine Corps, when that's something that should have begun on Sept. 12, 2001.

Where and how do they propose to find and enlist 10,000 or 20,000 more troops each year when it is literally all the recruiters can do to find enough young men and women to fill the existing quota of at least 80,000 each year?

Again, all the cheap fixes have been used. They've raised the maximum age for enlistment from 35 to 42. Should we kick that higher, say 65? Then you would have your choice: Medicare or boot camp?

Goddammit, Joe, STFU! Don't give 'em ideas!

We've doubled the number of convicted felons permitted to enlist. We've lowered the minimum standards to allow for more high school dropouts, more people who test in the lowest quarter on mental aptitude, more people who are tattooed from elbow to ear.

Of course, if the economy does a meltdown there could be a boom in enlistments and all our problems would be solved.

All of these costs are being pushed down the line to be borne by our children and grandchildren and their children in the form of burgeoning budget deficits seen and, as yet, unseen.

When is someone, somewhere in this country going to stand up and demand an accounting for all we've lost in a foolish, unjustified and unnecessary war in the wrong place, against the wrong people, at the wrong time - conducted by a president who got every bit of it wrong?

When are we going to cut our incredible losses in Iraq - human, spiritual and monetary - and get back on the road to being a better country and a better people whose leaders believe, as we do, in the U.S. Constitution and habeas corpus and the right to privacy?

Pretty soon, no Army left. Then, no problem.

It's past serious, folks.

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