Monday, August 13, 2007

Tired soldiers and bonuses

Spending a bit of time searching the world wide web this morning, I came across a disturbing article about the fatigue that is setting in within our military.

Soldiers are really feeling the impact of "the surge".
Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.

They drink Red Bull and other high energy drinks just to stay awake on patrols.
It is a weariness that has created its own culture of superstition. There are vehicle commanders who will not let the infantrymen in the back fall asleep on long operations - not because they want the men alert, but because, they say, bad things happen when people fall asleep. So the soldiers drink multiple cans of Rip It and Red Bull to stay alert and wired.

I am certain we will find that the military is feeding our soldiers drugs to keep them awake as well.

Divorce rates and instances of domestic violence are on the rise as well.
'I counted it the other day,' says a major whose partner is also a soldier. 'We have been married for five years. We added up the days. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan we have been together for just seven months. Seven months ... We are in a bad place. I don't know whether this marriage can survive it.'

I know a few former colleagues who have and are experiencing this.

The equipment is worn out too.
And it is not only the soldiers that are worn out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the destruction, or wearing out, of 40 per cent of the US army's equipment, totalling at a recent count $212 billion.

But it is in the soldiers themselves - and in the ordinary stories they tell - that the exhaustion of the US military is most obvious, coming amid warnings that soldiers serving multiple Iraq deployments, now amounting to several years, are 50% more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress.


Think about that. 40% of our military's equipment will need to be replaced.

It will continue to be an economic boom for the military industrial complex, and the former Generals who sit as executives on their governing boards.

This leads to severe problems around recruitment and retention of soldiers, sailors, and Marines!

The Army has raised enlistment bonuses for those who "fast track" their way to Iraq. They have also raised their bonuses to unheard of levels.
A new law will allow the Army to give larger financial bonuses for enlistments and re-enlistments - doubling the maximum payment to new active duty recruits from $20,000 to $40,000, and from $10,000 to $20,000 for reservists. It also will let older recruits sign on by raising the top age from 35 to 42. And the top re-enlistment bonus for active duty soldiers would increase from $60,000 to $90,000.

They have also doubled the amount of soldiers they will accept at the lowest level of aptitude to pad their recruiting figures.

When Congresswoman Bachmann was living it up in the Green Zone, she ignored the soldiers out on the Outposts who are more apt to suffer from an episode of PTSD, those who actually see "the surge" for what it really is...

An absolute failure.

1 comment:

saintcroix said...

For more on how Michele Bachmann votes against our troops, check this out:

http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/2007/08/bachmann-to-troops-work-little-harder.html