Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Re: Extending Tours In Iraq (2)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Leonard Riedel"
To: "Dean Lawrence R. Velvel"
Cc: "Richard Lillie"; "Michael Chesson"
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 11:58 AM
Subject: RE: Fw: Extending Tours In Iraq

The military is facing its first real crisis of organization and poor planning. The clamor of people in the late 1980s suing for peace dividends got it in the form of a downsized military force with heavy dependence upon the Guard and reserves.

It is this retired military man's humble opinion that Iraq has and will destroy the reserves and guard. Maybe the premise behind their organization was wrong; but, now that they are federalized and drafted to serve extended tours in a combat zone to implement US Foreign Policy it will be much harder to recruit "weekend warriors" who now know that the
weekends are pretty long.

While never criticizing the patriotism of our soldiers and airmen et al, we did enhance our volunteer force by using the "carrot and stick" approach. Generous allowances for education and other benefits seemed a tempting reward for a few years of "volunteerism," garrison duty and maybe a tour in Guam, Korea or England--now that men and women are dying and finding thatfuture basing will be less in the historic capitals of old Europe and more in desert outposts it may be harder to meet recruiting goals--"stop loss" is a program designed to prevent an immediate loss of capability and was never intended as a stop gap to prevent the normal rotation of soldiers whose terms of service had expired.

It is a crime that soldiers of the United States military have to sue their government to honor the contract that they as soldiers have honored throughout their term of service to their country.

Finally, has the time not come to face a harsh reality that we have avoided since Viet Nam? National service is and should be a premise of citizenship. The government has had a pass for 30 years since the end of the draft. When it stopped involuntarily conscripting citizens many citizens tuned out of the international politics of their government. Could Iraq have happened if the troops required were jerked out of classrooms and off graduation stages and from behind McDonalds and Subway counters to fight in a war that was driven by American idealism? I serious doubt the war would or could have been sustained. I also suspect the national election might have gone differently.

So here we are in legal limbo. The US administration has the tools to prosecute a foreign policy that it feels is necessary using men and women who volunteered to serve--it is using them to the maximum, it is activating the reserve components of that force and effectively conscripting them as long as Federal statutes permit. Are they creating debris of what was a fairly well balanced military force in the desert? Who will pick this back up and reconstruct a military with the manpower and resources to meet future challenges. What sources will we use if North Korea wishes to flex its military muscle or Iran elects to test a nuclear device?

Without rendering a judgment on the right or wrong of our presence in Iraq--the fact is we are there with a mission to accomplish. We have taken on the awesome moral responsibility of reconstructing a civilization back into the community of nations--of given them an infrastructure and governmental system that can support its citizens. It was a decision we didn't have to undertake but having done so have a moral responsibility to see it through while ensuring the security of a people who have lost all semblance of order in their lives.

In doing this we have exposed the nation to some threats that can only be answered with major force structure decisions? Combat soldiers are being used as peacekeepers, policemen, construction workers, counsellors and advisors. It is a role for the State department; however, it has now tied down over 100,000 American fighting troops in an area where major combat operations have been replaced by assasination and terrorist thuggery. There are some serious issues at stake here. Much more than the symptom of soldiers suing to be released from a contract enlistment that is now over.

- Len Riedel

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Chesson
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2004 8:49 PM
Subject: Re: Extending
Tours In Iraq

You go, Larry! Very nice piece. Officers and soldiers are suing to get out; discharged gays are suing to get back in. Where will this stop?

Your reference to the Civil War precedent was right on the mark: troops went home during Bull Run, and during Grant's Wilderness Campaign. Lincoln and Grant dealt with it.

During the Mexican War, a significant portion of Winfield Scott's army invading from Vera Cruz to Mexico City went home. Scott knew it would happen, and rather than have them leave at a critical moment, sent them home early, and did the best with what he had. You know the rest of that story.

BZ's as we say in the Navy.

- Michael Chesson

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