Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Troops forgotten?

Peter Baker has an interesting article in today's WaPo. It seems a new poll is out and apparently Americans are of the mind that things are going better in Iraq.


"Nearly half of Americans, or 48 percent, believe that the military effort in Iraq is going well, up from 30 percent in February, and 43 percent agree that U.S. forces are making progress in defeating insurgents, also up from 30 percent."

Therefore, Baker writes, the debate within the beltway is turning more towards things other than Iraq, like Iran, spending, health care and the economy. Iraq is old news, it seems. Baker says, "At their Oct. 30 debate in Philadelphia, the word 'Iraq' was used 44 times, but the word 'Iran' came up 69 times."

In fact, if things keep going so swimmingly in Iraq for W.'s surge, this might give the GOP a leg up on Democrats next year in the elections. If the Republicans don't have to go into the general elections with W.'s war hung around their necks and Patreaus is able to keep his promise of bringing some 30,000 troops home by July (he really has no choice due to the strain on the Army) Baker writes, "The fall general election could be played out against the backdrop of troops coming home."

How convenient! And if there's any kind of attack on the "Homeland" between now and then Rudy should be a shoe-in.

One thing we might to keep in mind about Iraq is that while the situation there is looking somewhat better compared to the flaming gates of hell it has been over the past two years, we have still lost 844 troops this year, so far.

And this is to say nothing of the physical and emotional damage that has been inflicted on our returnijg troops that we'll be living with long after Cheney has had his 8th heart attack and W. is comfortably into retirement happily pulling weeds with Barney.

USA Today reports:

"At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY. The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327."

And the Army is really doing their part to step and help these troops out (on the cheap naturally.)

An ongoing NPR series reports:

"New Pentagon figures released to NPR show that since the United States invaded Iraq, officers have kicked out far more troops for having behavior issues that are potentially linked to post-traumatic stress disorder than they did before the war.

NPR asked the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps to disclose how many troops have been discharged by their commanders in recent years and why. The Marine Corps has not provided statistics. But an Army chart, which NPR recently received, shows that since the United States invaded Iraq:

— Commanders have discharged almost 20 percent more soldiers for 'misconduct' than they did in the same period before the war;

— Commanders have discharged more than twice as many soldiers for "drug abuse" (a subset of the "misconduct" category);

— Commanders have discharged almost 40 percent more soldiers for 'personality disorder.' In all, the Army has kicked out more than 28,000 soldiers since the war in Iraq began on the grounds of personality disorder and misconduct."

And then there's this:

"-- Some of the 2,600 Minnesota National Guard members who spent 16 months in Iraq say their tour of duty made them shorter, at least temporarily, and doctors say that's because the 60 to 90 pounds of gear they carried likely caused their spinal discs to compress." [postbullitin]


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