Iraq war: Still deadly for troops, stretching resources thin


Geraldine Sealey
July 22, 2004 7:08PM (UTC)

Donald Rumsfeld appeared on NPR the other day and told his interviewer the situation in Iraq was "calming down." If only. NPR felt compelled to follow-up the Rumsfeld piece with some much-needed perspective. In fact, NPR reported, things in Iraq are not calming down, at least not for U.S. troops. For U.S. soldiers, the month of July has been deadlier than June -- the formal handover of sovereignty did not slow the dying -- and this week marked a tragic milestone: Deaths among U.S. troops passed the 900 mark.

Add to this dose of reality the rash of newspaper stories out today showing the war's toll on military recruitment and resources.

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The Army is so in need of soldiers it has been forced to immediately bring recruits into the ranks, eliminating the option of deferring entry until the next year. This makes the job of recruiting even more difficult as the cushion of soldiers coming in for 2005 disappears. In fact, the Army's pool of recruits is at its lowest in three years, and it's getting more difficult to attract new enlistees for the National Guard and reserves as they have taken on such a major role in the Iraq occupation, the Washington Post reports, trends that worry officials in Washington who see the resources of the military stretched thin by the Iraq war.

The war in Iraq is also running low on funds thanks to errors in judgment by the Bush administration, the Government Accountability Office reports, as the U.S. military has already run through the funds appropriated by Congress. The shortfall has been detrimental to the military. "Already, the GAO said, the services have deferred the repair of equipment used in Iraq, grounded some Air Force and Navy pilots, canceled training exercises, and delayed facility-restoration projects. The Air Force is straining to cover the cost of body armor for airmen in combat areas, night-vision gear and surveillance equipment, according to the report." Also in short supply, due in part to the unexpected level and endurance of the Iraq resistance: Bullets.

At least soldiers can still have their breast implants paid for without a problem.

Donald Rumsfeld appeared on NPR the other day and told his interviewer the situation in Iraq was "calming down." If only. NPR felt compelled to follow-up the Rumsfeld piece with some much-needed perspective. In fact, NPR reported, things in Iraq are not calming down, at least not for U.S. troops. For U.S. soldiers, the month of July has been deadlier than June -- the formal handover of sovereignty did not slow the dying -- and this week marked a tragic milestone: Deaths among U.S. troops passed the 900 mark.

Add to this dose of reality the rash of newspaper stories out today on the war's toll on military recruitment and resources.

The Army is so in need of soldiers it has been forced to immediately bring recruits into the ranks, eliminating the option of deferring entry until the next year. This makes the job of recruiting even more difficult as the cushion of soldiers coming in for 2005 disappears. In fact, the Army's pool of recruits is at its lowest in three years, and it's getting more difficult to attract enlistees for the National Guard and reserves as they have taken on such a major role in the Iraq occupation, the Washington Post reports, trends that worry officials in Washington who see the resources of the military stretched thin by the Iraq war.

Advertisement:

The war in Iraq is also running low on funds thanks to errors in judgment by the Bush administration, the Government Accountability Office reports, as the U.S. military has already run through the funds appropriated by Congress. The shortfall has been detrimental to the military. "Already, the GAO said, the services have deferred the repair of equipment used in Iraq, grounded some Air Force and Navy pilots, canceled training exercises, and delayed facility-restoration projects. The Air Force is straining to cover the cost of body armor for airmen in combat areas, night-vision gear and surveillance equipment, according to the report." Also in short supply, due in part to the unexpected level and endurance of the Iraq resistance: Bullets.

At least soldiers can still have their breast implants paid for without a problem.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

MORE FROM Geraldine Sealey

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