Admiral Mike Mullen held an “all hands call” session with troops at the Hickman officers club with a crowd of 200. Many of the questions came from servicemen who wer concerned about deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Chief of Staff was asked by a soldier why private contractors make six-figure salaries which is widely different from that received by those who are doing the fighting. Mullen responded that members of the military receive enlistment bonuses and efforts are being made to raise pay. Other questions related to the isue of short deploment notices for sailors who deploy as individuals and are assigned to other units and to regulations against Marines obtaining items from home that are in short supply in Iraq. Another soldier wanted to know why Marine officers are issued new M4 carbines while enlisted men still use the older M16 rifles. Admiral Mullen admitted he had previously been asked the question and still doesn’t have a good answer but will try to find out.
It is refreshing an American leader esponsible for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is actually having an open dialogue with those who must bear the brunt of fighting. He noted his concern “about the continued pressure on our armed forces — particularly on our ground forces, with the multiple deployments, the length of the deployments.”
The basic trouble is lack of sufficient troops for the multiple tasks being asked of the armed forces. Hopefully, the new president will have an answer to the question of when does it all end?