Back To Iraq

Back to Iraq years earlier than previously promised for some Guard/Reserve components:

The Pentagon is planning to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup, Defense Department officials said Wednesday.

National Guard officials told state commanders in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio last month that while a final decision had not been made, units from their states that had done previous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan could be designated to return to Iraq next year between January and June, the officials said.

***

Changing the reservists’ schedules means abandoning previous promises that they would get several years between deployments. And the acceleration means that soldiers who usually drill just once a month and for a few weeks in the summer will have to begin intensive preparations right away.

“We’re behind the power curve, and we can’t piddle around,” Maj. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, said in an interview. He added that one-third of his soldiers lacked the M-4 rifles preferred by active-duty soldiers and that there were also shortfalls in night vision goggles and other equipment. If his unit is going to be sent to Iraq next year, he said, “We expect the Army to resource the Guard at the same level as active-duty units.”

While the equipment issues are, in and of themselves, troubling, the other issue is that decisions like this could potentially decimate the Guard/Reserve components for years to come. I don’t have hard data in front of me, but I can speak from my own anecdotal evidence (which, as always, opens the possibilities for mistakes in judgement).

Many of the soldiers that make up the Guard/Reserve component are former active duty soldiers. When I left active duty in 1992, I had several years left on my Inactive Ready Reserve (when you sign up for active duty, despite how long your active duty tour is, you are obligated to be in the IRR for 8 years. While on IRR, you are available for callups and returns to active duty in the event of a national emergency). I also lived in a state that would pay for your education at a state institution if you were in the National Guard.

In short, I was already faced with several years of IRR obligation anyway, I really, really enjoyed my experiences in the military and did not look forward to severing all ties with the Army, so the National Guard was what we would call a no-brainer. I would drill once or twice a month, go away for several weeks of annual training, get paid a monthly stipend (it was around 100 or so bucks if I remember correctly), collect my monthly GI Bill/Army College Fund nine months of the year (around 550 a month), and have my school paid for. It was a super sweet deal for me, and it was a super sweet deal for the state.They got a soldier with several years of active duty training and experience, I got my education paid for and got to stay in the military, something I really wanted to do.

While in the Guard, over half of my fellow soldiers were in the same boat- folks that had done varying numbers of tours on active duty, and had, for one reason or another, left, but did not want to leave all the way. The other half was composed of citizen soldiers who had never been on active duty, but had joined the Guard/Reserve directly. During my years in the Guard, my unit was activated numerous times. Many times simply for snow duty, some times for flood duty (flooding is a terrible problem in southern WV, as entire coal mining towns along creeks can be wiped out in flash floods- floods that often occur after heavy snows). Many times, our unit had volunteers do prolonged service burning marijuana crops in various drug eradication programs. I was fortunate never to have to be called up for a prolonged tour of duty overseas, although opportunities did arise for me to spend 6-8 weeks overseas (once there was a mission to Egypt in which the unit took volunteers, other summers people were flown to do border patrol missions, etc.).

I say fortunate not because I didn’t want to go, but fortunate because I had too many other responsibilities. I worked as a student, I interned and later worked for a probation office, I played lacrosse, etc. At one point during my Guard duty, I was attending a one year Masters program every morning for 5 hours, driving to a store I ran and working until 11 pm every day during the week, working from 10 am until 9pm at the store two weekends a month, and drilling with my Guard unit the other two weekends. I think I went over 280 days without a day off.

A lengthy call-up to a war in a foreign country would have destroyed my life. I would have lost my job (and spare me the nonsense about people keeping their jobs- I worked for a small company, they would have had to replace me). My academic career would have been put on hold, and I would probably have had to start over again. I also would have earned significantly while on active duty than I did while working my job, and incurred debts paying for rent in a place I was not living, paying insurance/monthly bills on a car I could not drive, etc.

An astute observer might, at this point, say two things. First, are there not programs in place to help with those burdens? The answer, of course, is, “yes.” There are programs to ease the financial burdens of call-ups, to suspend cc and home and car payments until a person returns from duty. But the bills still exist, and do not go away. You just pay them later, and with a significant loss in earning power for the duration of your activation.

Second, the observer might ask: “Were you not aware of those risks when you signed up?”

And again, the answer is “yes.” And therein lies the rub, and the real long-term problem. People are and will be aware of those risks, and given the past five years of heavy activation, broken promises, and real danger in Iraq, they will determine that the risks make service in the Guard or Reserve too prohibitive. When I entered my Doctoral program, I left the National Guard precisely for the risk to my education posed by the potential obligations of active duty deployments. And I didn’t have a job, a family, or many bills to worry about, etc. Others will.

Additionally, what incentive is there for an active duty soldier, weary from 2-3 tours in Iraq on Active Duty, to join a less trained, less equipped Guard or Reserve unit that in all likelihood will be thrown back into action in Iraq as frequently as they would on active duty? While there may be some really outstanding Guard/Reserve units, none of the ones I was in were as trained and ready for battle as my active duty unit. I am not trying to denigrate the Guard or Reserve, but it is just impossible for them to perform at the same level as an Active Duty unit when they only train a weekend a month as compared to the daily training and institutional knowledge of a group that works together every day. That doesn’t make them bad soldiers, and I was and still am really proud of my Guard units, but if I had to go to war and was given a choice between my old active duty units and my Guard units, I know which one I would choose. I am betting most soldiers would say the same thing. Add to that the possibility of damaging a fledgling career, academic pursuits, family plans, etc.?

If your answer is “None,” you are beginning to see the real problems with the misuse/overuse of the Guard and Reserve over the past few years. Forget about the gear issues, as gear can easily be replaced if enough political pressure is applied. What can not be replaced is the people. The National Guard/Reserve were, in my mind, a safety net. The Guard in particular was there to fulfill a variety of state needs as well as to supplement the active military. It just doesn’t seem that way anymore, and I am afraid that the Guard and Reserve are going to face some real problems in the longterm.






79 replies
  1. 1
    Andrew says:

    I guess the only question, then, is why do you hate America so much?

  2. 2
    fester says:

    John — If I am doing my counting correctly, some of the units getting called up were deployed spring 2004 to summer 2005, so going back winter of 2008 puts these units on the 1 in 2 plan which is what the active duty forces want for their formations….

    just adding a little more confirmation to your argument that if an individual wants to be on an active deployment schedule, they might as well just stay in the Army, and if they have the ability to get out they will not be going to the Guard for less pay, less predictability and less training for roughly the same deployment cycle.

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    Pretty clearly, I hate America something good.

  4. 4

    That’s why folks are re-enlisitng for the active force. Better to do your full eight years active and get the bonuses since they’re going to come for you anyway.

    It’s the military wife that will bring all this crashing down. A military wife will put up with a lot for the security of a paycheck, benefits, and retirement, but not this load of crap and a botched endless war.

    Once these guys have met the minimum required service to never be called back again they will be gone.

    Oh, and the single mothers who had been joining the Army in increasing numbers, say goodbye to that pool of support personnel.

    Fuck you George Bush.

  5. 5
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Thank you for breaking this down so clearly and directly. Great post, John.

  6. 6

    Well obviously this is all Clinton’s fault, as he broke the military back in the 1990s and now we’re having to suffer through those decisions.

    It’s not like Bush really has the authority to ask that the regular army be expanded in size to meet the current and future needs. He’s just the President after all. To be able to do that he’d have to be appointed God Emperor, and that’ll never fly with this moonbat congress.

  7. 7
    srv says:

    That’s why folks are re-enlisitng for the active force. Better to do your full eight years active and get the bonuses since they’re going to come for you anyway.

    It’s the military wife that will bring all this crashing down. A military wife will put up with a lot for the security of a paycheck, benefits, and retirement, but not this load of crap and a botched endless w

    Exactly – except it’ll probably be military marriages/families that come crashing down first.

    Always amazes me how in the boom military peacetime years, DoD can’t f**k with and underfund the reserves enough, and when the war comes, they can’t wipe their asses without them. You’d think someone would get a clue after awhile.

  8. 8
    srv says:

    In other news, Andrew Olmsted (who I think is going to Iraq), has closed his blog to prevent issues with advocacy regs.

  9. 9
    Pb says:

    If only someone like George W. Bush had been President 40 years earlier, then George W. Bush definitely would have gone to Vietnam–maybe a few times, in fact:

    “Had my unit been called up, I’d have gone . . . to Vietnam,” Bush said. “I was prepared to go.”

    But there was no chance Bush’s unit would be ordered overseas.

    Today’s national guard is getting an opportunity that our President never had, and it’s all thanks to him!

  10. 10
    Face says:

    Selling a book, eh, John?

    Serious question–did you see live action in the Gulf War of ’91?

  11. 11
    ed says:

    We keep recycling our Guard and Reserve troops and “surging” in Baghdad, while the British troops ebb on home. What is wrong with this picture?

  12. 12
    Sirkowski says:

    Many times, our unit had volunteers do prolonged service burning marijuana crops in various drug eradication programs.

    You bastard!

  13. 13
    Punchy says:

    Mr. Cole, you and Markos of DailyKos served in nearly the same timeframes. Did you guys ever meet each other in training or active duty responsibilities?

  14. 14
    Decided FenceSitter says:

    Yeah, Andrew Olmstead is going to Iraq and closed down there, and posted a farewell on ObsidianWings.

    Note though, that he may be getting published in a local paper.

  15. 15
    John Cole says:

    Mr. Cole, you and Markos of DailyKos served in nearly the same timeframes. Did you guys ever meet each other in training or active duty responsibilities?

    No, and it would be really rare for us to if we had. He was a gunbunny and I was a DAT in a cav unit.

  16. 16
    Dave says:

    Well the guard still functions as a Safety net John, however instead of being a safety net for the country and military as a whole, it’s s safety net for politicians who don’t want the political liability of a draft.

  17. 17
    Krista says:

    Many times, our unit had volunteers do prolonged service burning marijuana crops in various drug eradication programs.

    Bet you had a hard time finding volunteers, huh?

    I kid.

    I don’t know if the Reserves where you are are any different than ours, but having been in the Air Cadets, I knew a lot of people in that second group you mentioned, the “citizen soldiers who had never been on active duty, but had joined the Guard/Reserve directly”. A lot of these guys were still in high school or early university, and I’m sure that none of them seriously anticipated the possibility of actually getting their asses shot off.

  18. 18
    stickler says:

    Someone could correct me if this is incorrect, but the problem with over-reliance on the National Guard was actually part of the design in the 1970s. The post-Vietnam goal was to make it impossible to deploy American troops in long wars without incurring the political cost of using the Guard, too (thus also eliminating the “champagne units” and inequalities of the Vietnam era). Thus, no President would be able to go to war for a long period of time without incurring the serious cost of disrupting the National Guard.

    So, the strain on the Guard isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.

  19. 19
    dreggas says:

    I joined the reserves while still in HS, I was 17 and did basic after my junior year of HS and was scheduled to do AIT immediately following HS graduation but was discharged due to medical issues. My reserve unit was full of some really nice people but the reality was I would have preferred being deployed with the active duty over the reserve unit any day. I had planned to go active but found out only after getting out that I had to stay reserve for X number of years before going active which meant being locked into a job I really didn’t want (92Y10) in the first place but took because it was A.) better than the other job in the other unit and B.) I was gungho to get in.

    Looking back there is part of me that wishes I had not been discharged but the reality is I would never be making what I make now, or for that matter be doing what I am doing now had I stayed in. Honestly the Guard and the Reserve get a bad rep because they are “weekend warriors” but they were the safety net, they were the ones we’d need in a national emergency. Now they are being completely ground up in these deployments and I doubt there is a one ready to respond to any disaster here at home let alone pull duty in Iraq. Top that off with the fact that the eq we had in our unit was 8-up it just makes things worse. We were and I am sure they still are, the red headed step children of the military.

    This is just my experience, who knows some guard units probably are better based on what services they provide (mine was a field hospital unit). Add to that the fact that a lot of the 18 and 19 yr olds aren’t full active for the most part but are most likely split-op and you’ve got situations where these kids are barely out of basic, only drilled a few times in their guard and reserve units (most of the guys in my platoon were split-op and hadn’t finished HS, I doubt much has changed) and you are sending barely trained, barely grown soldiers who are nothing more than infantry at this point into a war zone…sound familiar?

  20. 20

    Cruiser: I joined the army ’cause my father and my brother were in the army. I figured I better join before I got drafted.

    Sergeant Hulka: Son, there ain’t no draft no more.

    Cruiser: There was one?

  21. 21
    Jim says:

    Congress has the following constitutional responsibilities – Where the heck are they?

    “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

    “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

  22. 22

    I saw this disaster coming and tried to re-enlist back in 2004. My thought then was enough troops might save the Army from being decimated by president Potato Head.

    Probably as dumb an idea as actually voting for Bush.

  23. 23

    you are sending barely trained, barely grown soldiers who are nothing more than infantry at this point into a war zone…sound familiar?

    Well my concience is clear. I didn’t vote for the bastard and I tried to volunteer.

    Wait until the fucked-up wounded start to exit the Arym in a year or two. It will really begin to hit home with the baying hound of war what this cost.

    BTW, I hear Prince Harry is going over to fight. Jenna and Barb are probably still to busy swilling beer to go help.

  24. 24
    dreggas says:

    Jim Says:

    Congress has the following constitutional responsibilities – Where the heck are they?

    AWOL.

    When it comes to actually funding the guard and reserves and upgrading their Equipment the Congress is AWOL. They fully fund the active duty units and sure they spend a crap-ton of money on the latest thing that goes boom but when asked to really fund the guard and reserves they probably just laugh.

  25. 25

    When it comes to actually funding the guard and reserves and upgrading their Equipment the Congress is AWOL.

    To be clear, the Congress that until seven weeks ago was controlled by the GOP has been AWOL.

  26. 26
    Pb says:

    Richard Bottoms,

    I saw this disaster coming and tried to re-enlist back in 2004. My thought then was enough troops might save the Army from being decimated by president Potato Head.

    Probably as dumb an idea as actually voting for Bush.

    a) Yeah, probably so.
    b) If you don’t mind my asking, on what grounds did they reject you?

  27. 27

    Speaking from experience John Cole

    discusses “the real problems with the misuse/overuse of the Guard and Reserve over the past few years.” (Balloon Juice)…

  28. 28
    dreggas says:

    Richard Bottoms Says:

    To be clear, the Congress that until seven weeks ago was controlled by the GOP has been AWOL.

    That remains to be seen, though the profile of the guard and reserves has been raised dur to Iraq. Of course the profile was pretty high in the Gulf War back in the 90’s though if I remember not as many were called up because we really did have a coalition going into Kuwait. Whether this Congress or for that matter the next or one after that begins treating the guard and reserve as well as the active duty (which granted hasn’t been treated very well) with regards to getting new equipment into the hands of the people doing the fighting and not into the hands of corporations making the next big boom. As I said, that remains to be seen.

  29. 29
    Pb says:

    To be clear, the Congress that until seven weeks ago was controlled by the GOP has been AWOL.

    But they’re back, baby!

    Deep cuts are not on Murtha’s mind. He has said his top priority as defense appropriations subcommittee chairman will be buying the equipment needed to restore Army readiness.

    It’s a $100 billion job, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jan. 23. Murtha appeared before the committee as a witness urging withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

    Four years of war in Iraq have dangerously eroded the readiness of most U.S. ground forces, he said. Nearly all active-duty units not now deployed and all National Guard units “are at the lowest state of readiness primarily due to equipment shortages resulting from repeated and extended deployments to Iraq,” Murtha said.

  30. 30

    >b) If you don’t mind my asking, on what grounds did they >reject you?

    Being 48 years old.

  31. 31
    Jim says:

    dreggas says:

    “To be clear, the Congress that until seven weeks ago was controlled by the GOP has been AWOL”

    Seven weeks in I don’t see the Democratic Congress moving toward “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing … them …” or for that matter undertaking their responsibility “To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces”

    Non-binding resolutions, indeed!

  32. 32
    Perry Como says:

    Being 48 years old.

    The enlistment age to 40 in Jan. of last year, then 42 in June. If you wait another year or so they’ll probably accept you.

  33. 33
    Perry Como says:

    Insert a “was raised” to that last post.

  34. 34
    Perry Como says:

    Seven weeks in I don’t see the Democratic Congress moving toward “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing … them …” or for that matter undertaking their responsibility “To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces”

    Actually, that’s exactly what Murtha has proposed. He wants to make sure the military is fully equipped and trained as not having soldiers coming back from their 5th combat tour in a row. Of course that’s called a “slow bleed” by the nutters. As Michael “I never saw a war I didn’t like” Ledeen says, “Faster, Please!”

  35. 35

    Seven weeks in I don’t see the Democratic Congress moving toward “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing … them …” or for that matter undertaking their responsibility “To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces”

    The bastards. Out of power for 13 years and they haven’t fixed things in seven weeks! This is an outrage.

  36. 36

    Actually, that’s exactly what Murtha has proposed.

    No way. I heard that demanding soldiers be properly trained & equipped before deployment, and have more than a year outside the combat zone when they come back is the height of irresponsibility.

  37. 37
    dreggas says:

    Jim Says:

    dreggas says:

    “To be clear, the Congress that until seven weeks ago was controlled by the GOP has been AWOL”

    Uh I didn’t say that that was a reply to me. :D I am taking a wait and see approach

  38. 38
    Punchy says:

    He was a gunbunny and I was a DAT in a cav unit

    .

    Is this English? Translation?

  39. 39
    dreggas says:

    Jim Says:

    Seven weeks in I don’t see the Democratic Congress moving toward “organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing … them …” or for that matter undertaking their responsibility “To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces”

    Non-binding resolutions, indeed!

    As for the rest, hmmm let me see the dems had to clean up the mess left behind by the previous and ever responsible (*gag*) congress. Add to that the amount of oversight duty that has been neglected for the past 6 years and you want to complain after they have been in power for only 7 weeks? Of course let’s forget Murtha’s proposals and the other proposals put forth but they involve *gasp* repealing the sacred cow of tax cuts.

    Come back next year and we’ll see where things stand. Sheesh even in the private sector new employees are given a few months on the job to show results. Of course if bush was working as a CEO in the private sector he’d be fired

  40. 40
    dreggas says:

    Punchy Says:

    He was a gunbunny and I was a DAT in a cav unit
    .

    Is this English? Translation?

    Unless I am mistaken, and I could be a bit rusty. Markos was a gunner, probably infantry on either a SAW (Squad Assault Weapon) of some sort such as the M60 or M249.

    As for DAT I am not sure what that means but John was in a cavalry unit.

  41. 41
    John Cole says:

    Ah, shit. Gunbunny is slang for mortar/artillery. DAT is what they called us tankers- Dumb Ass Tankers.

    Cav units are self-contained units and rarely mingle with other units (or at least mine didn’t), so unless he was in our own internal artillery, I would never have met him. Unlike if I were in an armor batallion, which would be supported by multiple artillery units, and thus run into more Artillerymen, and increase my chances of meeting Kos.

  42. 42
    dreggas says:

    John Cole Says:

    Ah, shit. Gunbunny is slang for mortar/artillery. DAT is what they called us tankers- Dumb Ass Tankers.

    Cav units are self-contained units and rarely mingle with other units (or at least mine didn’t), so unless he was in our own internal artillery, I would never have met him. Unlike if I were in an armor batallion, which would be supported by multiple artillery units, and thus run into more Artillerymen, and increase my chances of meeting Kos

    Heh now I don’t recall ever hearing Artillery guys referred to as gun bunnies. First time for everything I suppose. Same goes for DAT.

    Were you part of an Abrams Crew John?

  43. 43
    dreggas says:

    Actually that was probably a silly question about bein on an abrams crew now that I think about it, so what part of the crew were you?

    Since they wouldn’t let me fly apache’s I had tossed around the idea of going to tank school since I was a big Abrams fan. Of course that never did work out.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    dreggas says:

    Richard Bottoms Says:

    Signal Corps bitches.

    well we can at least all agree at least we weren’t a buncha air force pansies…LOL.

  46. 46
    Elvis Elvisberg says:

    Well, John, when you and the others signed up, you definitely did all realize that you could potentially take a financial and professional hit.

    Thing was, until very recently, you had to have figured that if that was going to happen, it would mean that this country was in a war that was essential for our security, some cause for which we’d all be sacrificing.

    I voted for Gore, and was generally supportive of Clinton’s foreign policy, but I thought that the best thing about Bush being elected in 2000 after making such a fuss about readiness was that he’d restructure things so that we never tapped the Guard and Reserves again like we had in ex-Yugoslavia.

    And I supported the Iraq War, having believed the intel claims– though there was enough info available that I now realize made that support wrong, at the time (ie, aluminum tubes, Bush’s professed fears of Iraqi UAVs dropping bad chemicals on the US and our allies).

    And I thought the lesson we, collectively, had learned from Vietnam and Watergate was that excessive secrecy and warfare-related duplicity are bad news.

    As it turns out, the proper lesson to learn was, always maintain a healthy skepticism of what the government says, especially about military adventures.

    That’s the essence of patriotism, to actually care about the lives of the people who are serving and to hold our country to higher standards than invading places “because we can.” So naturally, the psuedo-conservatives in charge of the GOP are trying to argue that it’s unpatriotic.

    Well, that’s a sprawling, off-topic comment, now, but this indifference to people who are willing to sacrifice for this country, and toward key institutions that belong to history and not to any clique of officials, is one of the most galling things about this administration.

  47. 47
    jg says:

    And I thought the lesson we, collectively, had learned from Vietnam and Watergate was that excessive secrecy and warfare-related duplicity are bad news.

    The lesson we should have learned was never let scumbags get back into power. How in the world can the cheif and deputy chief of staff of an impeached and disgraced president get back into the White House running another secretive administration?

  48. 48

    Actually, John, the only redlegs I met after becoming a treadhead (post green to gold) were fsts. Now, while I was still green I met several, but that’s because I was a crunchy in one of those high-speed sorta units.

  49. 49
    Punchy says:

    Ah, shit. Gunbunny is slang for mortar/artillery. DAT is

    what they called us tankers- Dumb Ass Tankers.

    Cav units are self-contained units and rarely mingle with other units (or at least mine didn’t), so unless he was in our own internal artillery, I would never have met him. Unlike if I were in an armor batallion, which would be supported by multiple artillery units, and thus run into more Artillerymen, and increase my chances of meeting Kos.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  50. 50
    grumpy realist says:

    John, thanks much for your post. It’s this sort of analysis that keeps me visiting.

  51. 51
    HyperIon says:

    I am afraid that the Guard and Reserve are going to face some real problems in the longterm.

    I am afraid that the US is going to face some real problems in the longterm.

  52. 52

    Yes it will.

    And I think the reflexive support of the GOP by many in the military will change too.

    They’ve had a chance to see just how much Republicans really love the troops. Sort of like how a rapist loves his prey.

    BOHICA
    (Bend Over Here It Comes Again)

  53. 53
    t. jasper parnell says:

    A real question, Mr. Cole what is your take on the recent Greenwald, Goldberg, Blackfive discussion of the Priest Hull articles?
    And, of course, the Military’s response

  54. 54

    Our weekly anti-war protest in the town square just broke up. This week, the folks from the VFW across the street decided to stage an impromptu counter demonstration.

    Lot’s of sincere folks, one soldier violating regs being there in uniform, and my favorite, two Rambo-like teens.

    They’re ready and willing to go kick Osama’s ass uh… in about four years after they finish college.

    That’ll show ’em tough guy.

  55. 55
    rachel says:

    Les réserves, c’est zéro!
    …until it’s convenient to throw them into the meat grinder, I guess.

  56. 56

    Hey, I have an idea. Let’s destroy the Army.

    “Infidelity and financial issues are major issues,” Dr. Settles said, adding that there are abundant cases of wives who clear out their husband’s bank accounts or soldiers who come home and go binge shopping. “Even a good mule needs a few oats once in a while,” he said. “ Some of these guys, they are kind of at their limit.”Some therapists say they are bracing for this year’s divorces. Dr. Mary Coe, a marriage and family therapist working near Fort Campbell, an Army base on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, said she was seeing “many, many divorces” right now. The 101st Airborne Division recently returned from its second deployment with an astonishing level of rage, she said. “Now we are seeing 15- to 20-year marriages not making it, and these are families that survived 20 years of deployments,” Dr. Coe said.

    Destroying Families

    But at least I didn’t vote for the bastard at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue responsible for this mess.

    How about you?

  57. 57
    EasyLiving says:

    Great post.

    Lot of nutters around here though.

  58. 58
    SLE says:

    John needs a more expansive view of the problem.

    I just returned from Taji, Iraq. The single thing about the war that all soldiers mentioned, from private to major, was the deployment rotation. I specifically had three soldiers – a private, a staff sargeant and a major – volunteer to me that they would get out/retire asap because they had spent too long at war.

    “The duration” is a simple phrase, but of course in a war with no end it means, in the end, sacrificing any sense of normality for your entire career. This is nearly impossible for any human being to contemplate. Soldiers, our heroes, should not be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice on a 20 or 30 year schedule. The current rotation schedules in and of themselves represent a callous disregard of the welfare of the best among us.

    We are burning out our Army.

  59. 59
    Joe1347 says:

    Thanks to Iraq, in addition to the Guard having problems re-filling their ranks with quality recruits, what about the regular Army (and Marines)? What does the quality of the absolute latest batch of recruits look like – as compared to 2001? For example, did more over 21 (years old) ‘mature’ people enlist prior to Iraq and now mostly dumb-ass kids enlist straight out of high school (Hey, I resembled that remark)?

  60. 60
    RSA says:

    Well obviously this is all Clinton’s fault, as he broke the military back in the 1990s and now we’re having to suffer through those decisions.

    Does anyone have pointers to data on this? I hear this argument (seriously intended) from some conservatives, and I wonder what the reality is. Google tells me that military spending was flat or slightly declining during the Clinton years, and that as a percentage of GDP there’s not much real change from about 1985 through 2000, with a slight uptick at that point. But a newsmax article claims that under Clinton the number of military personnel was cut in half. That can’t be right, can it?

  61. 61
    stan68ar says:

    John,
    Your all about you….why it was inconvient for you to stay in the Guard… why it was fortunate you were not called…how the unit in the guard was somehow inferior.

    Thank goodness enough patriots serve for reasons other than themselves in the Guard and Reserve. You recieved education, parttime income and employment… when you became more interested in your own needs rather than serving to include making that guard unit more effective, you would not be my choice to continue to serve…. I’m glad you didn’t deploy with me.

  62. 62
    Barry says:

    John, what’s worse about the problems which you would have suffered if you had been called up during your Guard time, is that the current call-up systm isn’t just a year. The previous DoD limit of 2 years every 5 should have been enough to break the NG and Reserve, and there’ve been newspaper articles wherein the DoD announced that the 2/5 limit was to be exceeded.

    If pulling a year or more on, two years (at best) ‘off’, and then another year+ on, can’t break the NG and Reserves, then nothing can.

  63. 63

    Okay, well newsmax is talking out its ass, per usual. The DoD reduced active-duty personnel by 36% between 1989 and 2003. I’d wager that a good chunk of that occurred during the Clinton Administration, but the reductions started before he got in, primarily as a result of the USSR’s collapse.

    Now, where the Clinton administration did hurt the military was with Defense budget cuts (some of which were necessary, but could have been handled better) and base closures. The BRAC commission went a little crazy during the 90s and 55 major base closures were announced between 1993 and 1995. That’s the kind of stuff that would have stung under any administration, but given Clinton’s draft-dodger image among military personnel, people were extra bitter that it happened under him.

  64. 64
    John Cole says:

    John,

    Your all about you….why it was inconvient for you to stay in the Guard… why it was fortunate you were not called…how the unit in the guard was somehow inferior.

    Thank goodness enough patriots serve for reasons other than themselves in the Guard and Reserve. You recieved education, parttime income and employment… when you became more interested in your own needs rather than serving to include making that guard unit more effective, you would not be my choice to continue to serve…. I’m glad you didn’t deploy with me.

    First, you are an idiot. You attack my patriotism and call me self-centered, I might as well start out with some insults myself.

    Second, I must admit, my personal decisions about what is best for me, my future, and my career, are, shockingly, all about me.

    Third, this was not all about me at all, really. It is the fact that these are the decisions hundreds of thousands of soldiers are and will be making. You are a total fool to assert otherwise. I was merely pointing this out using my personal decisions as an example.

    Fourth, while it serves as a platform to attack me, I would suggest that relying on patriotism is not a very wise thing to do when it comes to the security of the united States. Fortunately, the military agrees with me, and offers salaries, benefits, reenlistment bonusses and all sorts of other perks. Patriotism is nice, and everything, but it is not how we staff our military. Indeed, this President seems to be loathe to even call on our patriotism in this conflict, as he has not asked the American people to sacrifice one thing. The only time patriotism is ever mentioned is when, such as here, some slackjawed f-tard is impugning or questioning someone elses patriotism.

    Finally, let me agree with you. I am glad I didn’t serve with you, because I probably would have gotten in trouble for kicking your ass.

  65. 65
    dreggas says:

    *bows before the greatness that was John’s response*

  66. 66
    RSA says:

    Thanks, annie’s granny!

    I also appreciated the exchanged that followed. I think it’s important to personalize important events and trends, not so that we lose the big picture, but rather so that we understand that there are real people involved. It’s not just an abstract troop surge that we’ve been talking about for the past few weeks, with chess pieces being moved into place. It’s real men and women.

  67. 67
    Tsulagi says:

    …The only time patriotism is ever mentioned is when, such as here, some slackjawed f-tard is impugning or questioning someone elses patriotism.

    Finally, let me agree with you. I am glad I didn’t serve with you, because I probably would have gotten in trouble for kicking your ass.

    LOL. Glad I scrolled down and reopened this post. That reply was good.

    I could also write a response to Stan, but I’ll pass. Just disappointed and pissed off. That someone could serve for as long as Stan did and now measure the steel and depth of their patriotism and devotion to country simply by how much they can be a Bitch for Bush. Pathetic.

  68. 68
    Joe1347 says:

    stan68ar Says:

    John,

    Your all about you….why it was inconvient for you to stay in the Guard… why it was fortunate you were not called…how the unit in the guard was somehow inferior.

    Thank goodness enough patriots serve for reasons other than themselves in the Guard and Reserve. You recieved education, parttime income and employment… when you became more interested in your own needs rather than serving to include making that guard unit more effective, you would not be my choice to continue to serve…. I’m glad you didn’t deploy with me.

    February 23rd, 2007 at 9:54 am

    I don’t think that the writer understands why many “choose” to serve (Federal service). Possibly, the post 9/11 world is different, but in the late 70’s and 80’s, many of those I knew in the Military and State Dept. served not primarily out of sense of patriotism, but for more personal reasons. I’d put lack of other job opportunities as the number one reason and number 2 probably was wanting to do something that they thought would be exciting. Of course, once you’re in, you find out just how ‘exciting’ peace time Federal service is. As for staying in, again in my small sample size, I think that loyalty to your buddies certainly came in first and patriotism wasn’t even a consideration. Plus, once you’re in, whatever patriotism you may have had coming in seemed to get quickly replaced by cynicism.

    Again and as usual, John Cole knows what he’s talking about and the rightwing nutjobs don’t have a clue and seem to be only able to hurl nasty insults instead of offering any constructive and well thought out comments.

  69. 69

    What? No Trackbacks?

    More National Guard Fisking

    It’s a light fisk. I genuinely like John Cole at Balloon Juice. Some mild corrections should do the trick.

    And as an Oklahoma Guardsman who may be affected by the call up that inspired his post, let me say that if called, we will go. It’s just how it is. Some are looking forward to it. Some are looking for a loophole. Some dread the very idea. But go we will, if it even happens, which is not yet a certainty. In addition, for those of you worrying, about the 1-180th, presently deployed to Afghanistan, facing a deployment almosst as soon as we come home, the NYT article conveniently left out that our command is doing all it can to keep us from having to deploy that quickly. Some of will volunteer anyway. 80% of those of us here didn’t have to deploy this time, but we volunteered to do so, because servicemen serve.

  70. 70
    John Cole says:

    I can;t even get your page to load to read, let alone a trackback.

  71. 71

    Sorry. Problem located and fixed.

    Gotta love the “New Blogger.” Sheesh.

  72. 72
    stan68ar says:

    OK – I retract my indication regarding your patriotism – I overstepped – my insensitivity derived from readjustment as a deployed Reserve soldier. You served – more than most can claim and I was wrong to assail your service – perhaps I need my ass kicked.

    just a DAT, retired from a fine institution that serves all americans. a bit touchy I guess

  73. 73
    Cameron Lewis II says:

    I’d like everyone here to know that I disagree with this war on all points. In fact, to demonstrate against it, I am now in desertion status and have been for the past four months. I will not return to duty as long as our government feels that to preserve our freedoms, we should be occupying a country that needs to get on it’s own feet and can’t because we are there.

    Bless everyone and fuck the government,
    Cameron Lewis II

  74. 74
    Jennifer says:

    Gear up for grub with a tripleheader of pigskin, including a meeting of brothers in Dallas. Everybody knows it’s been a rough year for her, but find out who else had issues

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  6. Speaking from experience John Cole

    discusses “the real problems with the misuse/overuse of the Guard and Reserve over the past few years.” (Balloon Juice)…

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