Thursday :: Jan 31, 2008

Bush is destroying our military and destroying our national security!


by Turkana

Two damning stories, today, encapsulate the devastation wrought on our military and our national security by the Bush Administration. The Associated Press just reported this:

The U.S. military isn't ready for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces don't have the equipment or training they need for the job, according to a report.

Even fewer Army National Guard units are combat-ready today than were nearly a year ago when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight, the panel says in a new report released Thursday.

The independent commission is charged by Congress to recommend changes in law and policy concerning the Guard and Reserves.

The commission's 400-page report concludes that the nation "does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available" to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, "an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk."

"Right now we don't have the forces we need, we don't have them trained, we don't have the equipment," commission Chairman Arnold Punaro said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Even though there is a lot going on in this area, we need to do a lot more. ... There's a lot of things in the pipeline, but in the world we live in - you're either ready or you're not."

Can we stop pretending that Bush is strong on defense and security? Can we stop the inane games and the puerile posturing and address the fact that this lunatic is endangering our nation?

This morning, the Washington Post had one of the most under-reported stories about the Iraq War:

Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

The Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated. Many Army posts still do not offer enough individual counseling and some soldiers suffering psychological problems complain that they are stigmatized by commanders. Over the past year, four high-level commissions have recommended reforms and Congress has given the military hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its mental health care, but critics charge that significant progress has not been made.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed severe stress on the Army, caused in part by repeated and lengthened deployments. Historically, suicide rates tend to decrease when soldiers are in conflicts overseas, but that trend has reversed in recent years. From a suicide rate of 9.8 per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2001 -- the lowest rate on record -- the Army reached an all-time high of 17.5 suicides per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2006.

Last year, twice as many soldier suicides occurred in the United States than in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, let's be clear about something: anyone who makes it through basic training is pretty damn tough. Tougher than most of us can imagine. It is not easy to break a soldier. It takes a special breed of irresponsibility and failure to drive up suicide rates. A special breed of irresponsibility and failure from above. Like from the very top of above. Like from the ostensible Commander-in-Chief.


In November, the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that:

The prevalence of reporting a mental health problem was 19.1% among service members returning from Iraq compared with 11.3% after returning from Afghanistan and 8.5% after returning from other locations (P<.001). Mental health problems reported on the postdeployment assessment were significantly associated with combat experiences, mental health care referral and utilization, and attrition from military service. Thirty-five percent of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning home; 12% per year were diagnosed with a mental health problem. More than 50% of those referred for a mental health reason were documented to receive follow-up care although less than 10% of all service members who received mental health treatment were referred through the screening program.

What does it take before people understand?

As CBS News reported, in July:

About 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological conditions such as brain injury and PTSD after returning from deployment. Among members of the National Guard, the figure is much higher — 49 percent — with numbers expected to grow because of repeated and extended deployments.

And this list of links explains why:

Overused and over-extended.

Christian Science Monitor: As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

USA Today: Multiple deployments are adding to the troops' stress.

United Press International: Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

Spiegel Online: Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush's insanity.

New York Times: The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

Associated Press: The army now has the highest desertion rate since 1980.

Boston Globe: West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army's best young officers.

Los Angeles Times: Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

Associated Press: Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush's escalation schedule.

Associated Press: Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

CNN: In April of this year, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

New York Times: Republicans killed Senator Webb's attempt to give troops more down time between deployments

Inadequately protected

New York Times: A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they'd had adequate body armor.

Newsweek: Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn't been providing the real thing.

Washington Post: Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

Inadequately cared for, when wounded or scarred.

Salon: The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

Salon: The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

National Public Radio: Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

MSNBC: Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Washington Post: A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is "woefully inadequate."

Actually being sent back into battle, when medically unfit.

Salon: Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

Salon: These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush's escalation.

Salon: Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

Anyone who makes it through Basic Training is both physically and psychologically strong; but the abuse suffered by our troops at the hands of the Bush Administration is too much even for many of them. It is unprecedented. How unprecedented?

As Stacy Bannerman wrote, in Foreign Policy in Focus:

Pentagon statistics reveal that the suicide rate for U.S. troops who have served in Iraq is double what it was in peacetime.

Soldiers who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked. According to a report recently released by the Defense Manpower Data Center, suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006. One of the reasons for "the higher suicide rate in Iraq [is] the higher percentage of reserve troops," said military analyst James F. Dunnigan.

This isn't just a humanitarian issue. It's not just about abusing the very people who willingly put their lives on the line in case we and this nation ever actually do need protection from an actual threat. This is also about undermining our national security.

This is why Congress needs to stand strong in opposing Bush. This is how they sell it to the public: George W. Bush is breaking our military personnel, and destroying our military. Defending America means stopping Bush.

Turkana :: 12:51 PM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!