Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bush Breaks Promises to Troops – Again

posted by Bill Arnett @ 2:16 PM Permalink

I suppose things like this shouldn't bother me anymore as I think much of what bush does, via propaganda and even his public speeches, is done to inure the public and the troops to his many, if not endless, lies. I know it's not polite to use the "L" word like that, but as a plain-spoken old Southern boy it would be a lie itself to try and qualify bush's disingenuousness with any less descriptive or polite multi-syllabic word. (And I never claimed to be a member of "polite society" though, of course, being from the Fifties south, good manners were beaten into me as a child and I do remember them.)

Promises have been made to the troops over and over again and broken by the bush/cheney maladministration with nary a thought of the value of promises kept or the consequences of breaking them.

During the Vietnam War troops were promised that a combat tour of duty would be for one year, with (if I remember correctly) at least a two-year break between assignments to a war zone. This promise meant a lot to us troops, it was always kept, and it helped morale by giving a soldier a date certain by which he would be gone (I still remember the excited shouting out of, "Short!" by those with only a short time left and the hoots of jealousy and envy from those with lots of time left – camaraderie at its best).

But there is a new calculous for the war in Iraq, tours extended for months at the last minute making all those "Short", un-short, and simultaneously damaging the morale of the troops. So much for for the "one year in combat" promise.

Then there is the breaking of the promises to the National Guard.

The NYT gives some of the details in this article:
The Pentagon is planning to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup…

National Guard officials told state commanders in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio last month that while a final decision had not been made, units from their states that had done previous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan could be designated to return to Iraq next year between January and June, the officials said.…

…It has been clear since Mr. Bush announced his plan last month that additional reservists could be required in Iraq…

…Changing the reservists’ schedules means abandoning previous promises that they would get several years between deployments.

…To draw more heavily on Reserve units, the Bush administration announced in January that it was revising rules that limited call-ups of Guard members. The previous policy limited mobilization of Guard members to 24 months every five years, but prolonged and large deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan led the Pentagon to abandon that rule.…

But instead of worrying about the deleterious effect of repeatedly breaking promises and the effect it has on the troops the bush/cheney maladministration has these concerns at heart:
The accelerated timetable illustrates the cascading effect that the White House plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq by more than 21,000 is putting on the entire Army and in particular on Reserve forces, which officers predicted would face severe challenges in recruiting, training and equipping their forces.

It also highlights the political risks of the White House’s Iraq strategy. Sending large numbers of reservists to Iraq in the middle of next year’s election campaign could drive up casualties among part-time soldiers in communities where support for the administration’s approach in Iraq is already tenuous, according to opinion polls.…

Of particular concern, he said, is the possibility that the prospects of going to Iraq next year could cause some Arkansas reservists not to re-enlist this year. Over the next year roughly one-third of the soldiers in the 39th will have their enlistment contracts expire or be eligible for retirement…

Political considerations above all else. Will this hurt recruiting which in turn will affect force readiness, will the lack of force readiness redound against the Republicans, and, oh Lordy, will the electorate once again savage the Republic party come the '08 elections?

Will bush ever say, and mean: But I have promises to keep… ? [H/T to Robert Frost]


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