Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Pressure For a Broken Army

Pentagon planners expect George w. Bush to demand an extension of the Baghdad "surge" and they know that will mean yet another tour extension for the already stressed out volunteer military. According to a report in The Guardian, the Pentagon is about to demand more

"...the Pentagon's mental health taskforce reported that US troops were undertaking higher levels of sustained combat duty than during Vietnam and the second world war; and the strain was telling.

"The taskforce found that 38% of soldiers, 31% of marines, 49% of national guard members and 43% of marine reservists exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety or other psychological problems within three months of returning from active duty.

"Symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injury - the two so-called "signature injuries" associated with service in Iraq and Afghanistan - included nightmares, insomnia, anger and alcohol and substance abuse, it said.

"It also questioned the practice of returning soldiers to front-line duty while they were taking medication, such as lithium and Prozac.

"The US currently has about 155,000 troops in Iraq. Most typically spend 15 months in combat zones with a guaranteed 12 months at home - a breach of the Pentagon's own rules that say equal time should be spent on and off duty."

This is the work of a president who is more concerned with not getting tagged with defeat than with genuinely supporting his troops. While casualty levels have not reached anything close to the losses taken in WWII and Vietnam, extending the combat tours of soldiers already so damaged shows anything but support.

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