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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Editorial: Military, Troops, Families Under Stress

A hard-hitting editorial from the Beaver Valley/Allegheny Times today expresses frustrations with the Iraq war and the problems flowing from "botched" decisions stressing and taxing military readiness, equipment, personnel, and families.

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The U.S. military, especially the Army and Marines Corps, is paying a terrible price for the Bush administration's botched occupation of Iraq.

In a letter to President Bush, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, reported that nearly two-thirds of the Army's combat brigades are not ready for wartime missions, largely because they are hampered by equipment shortfalls. They're also having trouble filing their ranks with qualified personnel.

It's important to note that Skelton, like fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. John Murtha, is a staunch supporter of the military. When Skelton speaks, people ought to listen because he, like Murtha, often reflects the views of those in the military. He also was not leaking secrets. The documents he and his fellow Democrats cited in their letter and at a press conference were unclassified.

He was backed up by the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, who released a statement the same day saying, "I have testified to the facts about our readiness and I remain concerned about the serious demands we face." The general added that the Army needs more than $17 billion in 2007 and up to $13 billion a year until two or three years after the war in Iraq ends.

Money can fix the equipment problem.

However, it isn't just materiel that is being worn out in Iraq. Personnel are, too. The constant combat rotations without adequate recovery time are taking a terrible toll, and not just on the combatants. Their families are under an incredible amount of stress, as well.

A first-class military organization is being ground down in Iraq because of this administration's blunders. Even worse, the quagmire in Iraq has limited the options the Unites States has in dealing with rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

The time has come to withdraw our forces from this mess and retool and refit the Army and Marine Corps as quickly as possible so that they can do what their mission calls on them to do: to defend the nation against real enemies, not ideologically and politically convenient ones like Saddam Hussein.

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