[Marxism] Re: US Army Plagued By Desertion And Plunging Morale

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Thu Dec 9 22:08:13 MST 2004


From:           	Rick Rozoff 


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1397131,00.html


The Times Of London
December 10, 2004


US Army plagued by desertion and plunging morale
>From Elaine Monaghan in Washington
 

-Experts are divided over how stretched America’s
military really is. But they agree that another
conflict would put the military in overdrive. Another
war would require a shift to a “no-kidding wartime
posture in which everybody who could shoot was given a
rifle and sent to the front,” according to John Pike,
of GlobalSecurity.org.  
   
  
While insurgents draw on deep wells of fury to expand
their ranks in Iraq, the US military is fighting
desertion, recruitment shortfalls and legal challenges
from its own troops. 

The irritation among the rank and file became all too
clear this week when a soldier stood up in a televised
session with Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence
Secretary, to ask why the world’s richest army was
having to hunt for scrap metal to protect its
vehicles. 

The same night, interviews with three soldiers who are
seeking refugee status in Canada, where they have
become minor celebrities, dominated prime time
television. They are among more the than 5,000 troops
that CBS’s 60 Minutes reported on Wednesday had
deserted since the war began. 
 
Many experts say that America’s 1.4 million
active-duty troops and 865,000 part-timers are
stretched to the point where President Bush may see
other foreign policy goals blunted. 

The bleed from the US military is heaviest among
parttimers, who have been dragged en masse out of
civilian life to serve their country with
unprecedented sacrifice. For the first time in a
decade, the Army National Guard missed its recruitment
target this year. Instead of signing up 56,000 people,
it found 51,000. 

“This is something that the President and the country
should be worried about,” said Lawrence Korb, an
assistant secretary of defence under Ronald Reagan and
now a military analyst who opposes the war. 

A further sign of strain can be seen in the Army’s
decision this year to mobilise 5,600 members of a pool
of former soldiers that can be mobilised only in a
national emergency. 

More than 183,000 National Guard and reserve troops
are on active duty, compared with 79,000 before the
invasion of Iraq. Forty per cent of the 138,000 troops
in Iraq are part-timers who never expected to be sent
to the front line. 

Instead, as a woman soldier pointedly reminded Mr
Rumsfeld on Wednesday, they face “stop loss” orders
that delay their return to civilian life. 

Another soldier lost his court battle this week to
stop the Army extending his one-year contract by at
least two years. At least eight soldiers have turned
to the courts, accusing the military of tricking them
into enlisting for a fixed term without warning them
that they could be forced to stay longer. Once they
get out, soldiers are increasingly resisting hefty
bonuses to re-enlist, an incentive that had helped to
meet recruitment targets in the past. 

The crisis may be even deeper than the statistics
suggest. Active-duty Army recruiters exceeded their
target of 77,000 by 587 this year only by dipping into
a pool of recruits who had not planned to report until
next year, and by dropping educational standards, Mr
Korb said. 

At 10 per cent, the death rate among war casualties is
the lowest in history. But maimed men and women are
flocking home with horror stories about the war, which
is claiming more and more casualties. Between June,
when the Iraqi interim Government took over, and
September, the average monthly casualty rate among US
forces was 747 a month, compared with 482 during the
invasion and 415 before the coalition government was
disbanded. With elections looming next month, the toll
is expected to mount. 

Most soldiers keep their anger under wraps, partly out
of patriotism but also out of loyalty to their units.
“There’s a thin green line that you don’t cross,” said
a veteran with the 4th Infantry, who deployed to Iraq
last year to help to plan counterinsurgency operations
and train Iraqi forces. 

But at his home base in Fort Carson, Colorado, he has
resisted a $10,000 re-enlistment incentive and plans
to get out as soon as he can. 

He illustrates the long-term problem the Army faces.
He served for five years, first in Korea, then in
Iraq, where he was a combat soldier for almost a year.
The Americans received little training for the
counterinsurgency they face. “Every day you wake up
alive, is a gift from above,” the soldier said. 

Few experts are surprised to hear that a recent army
survey discovered that half the soldiers were not
planning to re-enlist. 

Experts are divided over how stretched America’s
military really is. But they agree that another
conflict would put the military in overdrive. Another
war would require a shift to a “no-kidding wartime
posture in which everybody who could shoot was given a
rifle and sent to the front,” according to John Pike,
of GlobalSecurity.org. 


 
 
  




		
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