Tag Archives: US Army

Military Children In Need Of Mental Care!

The number of children with members of their family in the armed forces who now seek outpatient mental health assistance has doubled since the ill fated Bush invasion of Iraq. Nearly two million children who had at least one parent in the military asked for mental health assistance during the past year. In 2003, about one million of these children were asking for mental health but now the number has doubled. There is some evidence the number increased alongside the famous “surge” of troops fighting in Iraq. We are a nation which compels members of the military to have a third or fourth deployment in combat zones so it is no surprise their children will be undergoing stress. Patricia Barron of the National Military Family Association says there is evidence children are taking more medication and displaying signs of anxiety and depression.

President Obama is sending thousands of troops into Afghanistan where the fighting will be dangerous and for some soldiers it will be still another deployment away from family. Isn’t it about time the president bit the bullet and requested Congress to reintroduce the draft in order to equalize the burden of defending freedom within their entire nation?

NEVER GOING HOME?

A heavily armored truck in Afghanistan has stenciled on its windshield, “hallelujah, lock and load” and next to it is stenciled, “Never going home.” Such is the life of American fighting men and women in Afghanistan, trying their best to find the ever elusive Taliban who know enough to avoid fighting with Americans. They slink away into darkness, they make certain it is not American soldiers they are engaged in a fire fight with, and they prefer planting bombs on roads when no one is around. Actually, it is an effective strategy for guerrilla forces, don’t engage in direct action and wear the energy down of your opponents. Eventually, they will get tired and go home. The New York based 10th Mountain Division is stationed near Kabul, but has difficulty even getting into any fights with Taliban forces. “It’s more like playing dodge ball,” says Captain McCuney.

The main activity of platoons is checking out villages. As they enter children run to them, sent by parents to check out strangers, and then fathers follow to engage in conversations. Few villagers hide the fact the Taliban is nearby. Most villagers tell the Americans the Taliban goes on patrols just like their opponents.

All too frequently, American soldiers encounter villagers who most probably prefer the Taliban and their strict Sharia law. Oh well, it is 2025, and the daily check of villagers goes on and on.

US Forces In Iraq– 2020 Or Beyond??

Once upon a time, long ago, about in November, 2008, the Democratic candidate for president of the United States made clear his intention to withdraw all troops from Iraq by 2011. At a recent press conference held by Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, he indicated that while plans were still based on withdrawing troops by 2011, there was also what he termed a “reality scenario” which could alter any plans due to global shifts and currents. According to him, the reality scenario most likely would mean, “we’re going to have 10 Army and Marine units deployed for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The Army’s expectation called for the situation to get worse before it got better.

The good news from the general is that deployments will be reduced from 15 months to 12 months for the troops. If this is the best good news, American forces will most probably have a lot more bad news than good. Of course, his reality scenario is predicated on the assumption the American populace will accept a decade of fighting in the Middle East. Who knows what lurks in the hearts of Americans over the coming years?

Iraqi Soldier Kills American Soldiers

A group of American soldiers were laughing and talking as they prepared for a normal mission. They did not expect to engage in heavy combat from insurgents, and naturally their guard was relaxed as they waited to depart. None noticed an Iraqi soldier who placed a clip in his rifle. Suddenly, the air was filled with bullets as the Iraqi soldier fired at the Americans, within moments two fell to the earth with deadly wounds while three others were wounded. Fortunately, before the Iraqi could continue his deadly spree, other weapons responded and killed him. These attacks by Iraqi soldiers on Americans are isolated examples, but they also reveal the presence of disloyal elements in the Iraqi armed forces.

Initial investigation indicates the Iraqi soldier was a member of the Sunni militants who Americans have worked with, but Prime Minister Maliki has pursued a different course of action by refusing to be serious in the integration process of making Sunnis part of the Iraqi army. If Sunni and Shiite are not integrated into a single armed force, the prospect for peace is dim.

Taliban Warns US And Coalition Forces

Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, warned western powers any increase in their forces within Afghanistan would only result in more and more casualties. “Your current casualties of hundreds will jack up to thousand casualties of dead and injured” warned the fugitive leader. Ironically, Omar warns there will be more death and destruction as George Bush is talking about sending additional American forces into Afghanistan. There are currently about 62,000 troops in Afghanistan and talk of an additional 20,000 soon to arrive. Omar is calling upon Afghans to abandon the Karzai government while Karzai is asking Afghans to abandon the Taliban and join his side.

Both the Taliban and America discuss the situation in terms of troops and fighting, but neither side has any program of economic assistance to the people of this devastated land. Seven years after the Taliban were driven out, America is discussing the need to build an effective Afghan army. Why wasn’t this idea accomplished seven years ago when it was then possible to destroy the Taliban which was weak and disorganized? Is this another topic, George Bush doesn’t wish to rethink?

Think Now, Not Later, Emphasizes Secretary Gates

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged military leaders to focus on current needs rather than speculating about possible future scenarios. “I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called Next-War-itis– the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in future conflict.” He wants expensive futuristic weapons put on the shelf in order to focus on wars in Iraq and Afghansitan. He was particularly concerned about comments regarding over-extending American armed forces to such an extent the nation would not be able to handle future conflicts. “The risk of overextending the army is real. But I believe the risk is far greater–to that institution as well as to our country– if we were to fail in Iraq. That is the war we are in. That is the war we must win.”

In a sense, Secretary Gates raises important issues, but he continues the mistake of discussing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of “winning” and “losing” as though the United States is involved in a war with a recognized government. At present, the Bush administration does not have any concept as to what would constitute “victory.” These wars will not be “won” by military action, they will resolved through political and diplomatic actions. Gates discussed problems stemming from Iran supplying weapons to militants even though Iran has excellent relations with the current Iraq government. Engaging Iran on a diplomatic level is part of the solution, not the problem.

British General Defends Basra Military Policies

British General Sir Richard Dannatt sent an open letter to his troops in which he defended the miltary strategy employed in handling the Basra area. There is considerable unrest among British soldiers who now are confined to the Basra airport even as fighting rages inside Basra. “I can not deny that there are many who said that they would rather be at the forefront of the operations(as CGS I think I would be worried if I headed an Army that did not express such views), but those same individuals were all mature enough to understand it is right that the Iraqis are now taking the lead. Indeed, these are exactly the nature of operations that we have been pressing for some months-an Iraq solution to an Iraq problem.”

General Dannatt expressed his view that, while Iraq led operations made numerous mistakes, the overall conclusion is the Iraqi army did accomplish its goals of establishing its presence in Basra. “The Iraqi plan is working and is delivering what we sought.” He indicated the future role of British forces would be to “mentor the Iraqi Security Forces” and to avoid assuming a major role in military operations.

Ironically, many American political leaders are urging a similar policy on the part of American forces, but President Bush insists the Iraqis are not quite ready. Perhaps, if the British model of forcing them to get ready was utilized, the United States Army could begin to envision itself as a mentoring rather than a fighting force.

Protests Greet US Soldiers In Philippines

Demonstrators calling for U.S. troops to withdraw from the Philippines protested th start of joint militay operations in which thousands of Ameican troops work with Filipino soldiers in the southern region of the country in order to deal with Muslim insurgent groups. The two week drills — shoulder to shoulder” bring together 6,000 American and 2,000 Filipino troops who are battling militants from the Abu Sayyaf and its allies. Rallies against the Americans were held all over the Philippines but they constituted only a few hundred people engaged in protests. It is against Philippine law for troops from foreign nations to participate in military action on their soil. The American troops are restricted to humanitarian efforts such as medical activities or working on construction of schools. Some villagers claim they witnessed Americans engaged in military action, but this is strongly denied by both US and Filipino sources.

America most probably employs a “soft approach” in the Philippines in dealing with militants but there mere presence is used to stir up anger. One can only wonder why the United States does not have civilians engage in these peaceful acitivities and remove the entire issue of military engagement.

Were US Soldiers In Iraq Exposed To Radiation?

The United States Army denies reports that soldiers who were stationed at a nuclear research center in Baghdad were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. Since 2003, more than 750 soldiers have been guarding the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center which is 12 miles south of Baghdad. Army officials claim those who received measurable levels of radiation were found to be within US safety standards. However, Sgt. Jason Boatright send an email in August suggesting they had been exposed to radiation at levels not appropriate for health and safety. Boatright met with Col. Mark Melanson, chief of radiation safety, but he also gave interviews to a Memphis TV station in which he stated: “I noticed the guys would end up with rashes. Some had headaches, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal issues. We realized we were exposed to radiation.” Colonel Melanson insists Boatright is the only soldier who ever complained about radiation.

The US Army has announced that any soldier who was stationed at the nuclear facility should contact medical authorities or go to a VA hospital if discharged if they have any indication of radiation poisoning. Hopefully, no one else will be identified who encountered medical problems at the nuclear site.

Military Desertions Highest Since 2001

The ongoing strain of constant deployments, re-deployments takes a toll on many brave members of the military. All told, there were 4,698 soldiers who were classified as deserters, a 42.3 percent increase over the previous year when 4,399 deserted. In a rather surprising aspect of the desertion rate, about 63.6% of this year’s desertions occurred from April through September. Marine desertions rates fell but it is the United States Army which has borne the greatest burden in fighting the Iraq war. Soldiers must spend a fifteen month tour in Iraq, return home for 12 months, and then are sent back for an additional 15 months. Lawrence Korb, a former member of the Pentagon during the Reagan administration notes, “It’s a combination of not enough dwell time, and having to go back to the war as well as the type of people you’re taking in.” In an effort to boost recruiting, the Army has given waivers to 11.6 percent of new recruits.

War is not pretty and war creates tensions ordinary humans do not like to confront. There have been desertions in all wars and as long as people fight one another, some will opt out of the conflict. There is o question the strain of returning over and over is simply too much for many members of the military, particularly those with families who have been compelled to witness their civilian careers get torn to pieces.