nation’s all-volunteer army is being dangerously
stretched by the apparent inability of the Bush administration
to take appropriate steps to solve this problem.
There isn’t even any simple acknowledgement that there is a problem. All
this is brought on mainly by the president’s unilateral pre-emptive war
Because of the deteriorating military situation, the administration is adopting
a stop-gap policy that can best be described as selective conscription. This
means, as reported, that the Pentagon has decided to meet the emergency by recalling
5,600 honorably discharged soldiers back into service.
These previously demobilized troops will be activated to be used mainly in high-risk
Iraq and Afghanistan. This should prove helpful to some of the present overworked
soldiers whose tours of duty have been extended and extended again.
In the ranks of these troops, both the remobilized “conscripted” troops
and the current active troops, one out of six is said to be showing some symptoms
of post-traumatic stress disorder or some other severe emotional difficulties.
This might help explain the prisoner torture situation.
This sad happening is coming about because Bush is reluctant to face up to the
negative results of his pre-emptive war strategy. His faulty reliance on a quick
military victory in Iraq, to be immediately followed by a welcoming democratization
by the local populace, has not come about. This belief turned out to be totally
The actual ensuing urban guerilla warfare now rocking Iraq could well have been
foreseen. But the American troops have become the victims of this messy quagmire,
a situation for which Bush and company had not prepared. The almost daily toll
of one, two, three and four of our young volunteer soldiers is emotionally very
hard to bear.
The deaths are so routine they are usually found in the interior pages of the
newspaper. What should be done is the papers should carry a front-page box alerting
the readers on the death toll of American and coalition troops day by day.
As of this writing, 867 American servicemen have died in Iraq since the start
of this “slam dunk” war. It is not an accident that so little press
has been given to the deaths. For example, a memo by Fox News to its television
staff reads, “Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S.
lives.” In other words, slant the news.
Interestingly, the documentary film “Fahrenheit 9/11” shows how the
armed forces recruiters deliberately go to shopping malls to recruit the unemployed
and underemployed for military service. They are staying away from the colleges
and universities and their young people. And the film portrays a mother’s
grief at the news of her son’s death. Much of this should be highlighted
daily and not almost hid from the public as it is now — not always accidentally,
but deliberately as at the Fox TV channel.
As to how long the public will endure this Iraq death toll, the answer certainly
will be part of the presidential election. Many of us oldsters, veterans of past
wars, are coming to believe this Iraq pre-emptive war should never have occurred.
Our brave men and women of the armed forces deserve far better.
Ruhig is well-known in Sacramento for his tireless advocacy
for proposals designed to help seniors live long, happy,
full lives. He has held leadership roles in several advocacy
groups and on government advisory boards. Ruhig once sued
the California Department of Aging for age discrimination,