That "Backdoor Draft": What's Bush Have In Store for America?
Tom Regan in the Christian Science Monitor has a good roundup of the (mostly inconsequential) good and (rapdily worsening) bad news in Iraq, as reported by various journalists. Together with scattered local news reports from around the nation, there is ample reason (as if any more were needed) to wonder if the Bush administration is planning a major escalation of hostilities in (or around) Iraq after the election.
If this sounds familiar, it may be because you remember the 1968 presidential campaign when Nixon promised a "secret" or "special" plan to end the war. Of course, that was followed by immediate escalation of hostilities into neighboring Cambodia and Laos two and a half months after the election.
Tom Regan reports:
'The news from Iraq seems grim. * * * [T]he military forces of the radical Islamic cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr's effective control of Sadr City, the huge slum on Baghdad's northeastern edge that is home to 2.5 million people.
'... Najaf, AP reporter Robert Fisk says, "is littered with burnt-out police vehicles and American trucks. Every police post for 70 miles has been abandoned ... "
'... The American-appointed 'government' controls only parts of Baghdad – and even there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority. Iyad Allawi, the 'Prime Minister', is little more than mayor of Baghdad.
'... An oil pipeline to Turkey has been damaged, "bringing exports to a halt" and Turkish truck drivers are pulling out.'
... 'As reported in the Boston Globe, the "relatively high rate of US military casualties since the symbolic transfer of sovereignty to Allawi's appointed group "has dimmed hope that the handover of power to the Iraqi government would help stabilize the country and reduce pressure on US soldiers."
... 'Knight Ridder reports "many... American troops are now openly questioning their mission in Iraq, and the leaders who sent them there.
'... Journalist Ken Dillon of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who in April was parroting the line that the press was "underplaying the good things happening" discovered on his return to Iraq that "the situation had deteriorated so dramatically that a lot of those good things have become irrelevant."'
In addition to Regan's summary, we know The Army News is reporting that the 2nd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade in Korea is preparing for duty in Iraq.
"The 2d Infantry Division is expected to "fall in" in Iraq in September. * * * The move of troops deployed in Korea to another hot spot in the world is unprecedented in the half-century American military presence in Korea. The troops represent about 10 percent of United States military forces in Korea."
The redoubtable Global Security web site has been reporting for some time that--
"the U.S. is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region."
At present, according to official Pentagon claims as reported by Chris Tomlinson of the Associated Press :
'Currently, Reserve and National Guard forces comprise 39 percent of U.S. forces in Iraq, compared with 25 percent last year. But that number will grow to 42 percent or 43 percent next year, the director of operations for the Joint Staff, Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, told Congress on July 7."
Then again, the Harrisburg Patriot-News attributes to (the same?) Pentagon officials these numbers:
"[T]he Reserves and National Guard will continue to make up about 43 percent of the occupation force for at least the next year."
Furthermore, as we learned in the past several days --
"Duty in Iraq forced the National Guard to transfer 71,000 soldiers into deploying units to be ready to go overseas and forced the transfer of 22,000 pieces of equipment from non-deploying units to those headed overseas, according to a recent report by the General Accounting Office, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress."
It's been known since late June, as Reuters reported late in June , that the Pentagon plans to call up an additional "approximately 5,600" reservists. But that number is suspect. It just doesn't seem consistent with other public reports.
So, out of curiosity today I spent about 15 minutes -- that's all -- googling local news web sites for information about the status of local reservists. Many of these web sites were local TV stations, which I will admit are not the most useful or reliable jouronalistic sources. On the other hand, they do tend to lean heavily on 'human interest' stories from their immediate area -- stories like husbands and wives being separated by National Guard and Reservist call-ups.
From that brief glance, it sure looks like there are a heck of a lot more than "approximately 5,600 reservists" being called up for Iraq duty late this year and early next. Taken together, these little items may be adding up to something suggestive. Either the Pentagon can't add or it can't tell us the straight truth.
In late July the Honolulu Advertiser was reporting the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Marines is preparing for reassignment to Iraq. In addition, "[n]early 2,000 Hawaii-based soldiers with the Army National Guard's 29th Separate Infantry Brigade were told they need to report Aug. 16 for active duty and a year long mission to Iraq beginning in February ."
According to the Dallas Star-Telegram of July 8 "the army has just called up 3,000 [Texas] guardsmen." These may or may not be the same as those the Houston Chronicle reports: "[a]bout 3,000 Fort Hood troops with a variety of military specialities [who] will be deployed to Iraq in late 2004 and early 2005... ."
In Kexington, Kentucky, a local television news channel is reporting 'about 21-hundred soldiers will begin deploying to Iraq this fall.'
According to a Quad Cities television station, approximately 2,800 Illinois National guardsmen are being activated.
In Rochester, N.Y, a local television station reported three weeks ago that 15 combat specialists are being called up and sent to Iraq.
Another 3,000 from the 256th Combat Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard are being sent to Iraq.
That adds up to more than "approximately 5,600," and I didn't even get to more than a handful of states.
Some blogger with a wide geographical readership really needs to coordinate a nationwide effort to pin down from local sources the real number of Reservists and National Guardsmen being drafted 'through the back door.'