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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, October 31, 2004

Iraq, the vacuum of the US Army

Look at the man's patch. It's from the 2nd ID

If you think Bush is telling the truth about not needing more men in Iraq, why the fuck are elements of the 2nd ID and 25th ID in Iraq?

Why is this important?

2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division
"Strike Force"

* 1-503 IN (AA)
* 1-506 IN (AA)
* 1-9 IN
* Long Range Surveillance Det

Brigade Combat Team

* 2-17 FA "Steel"
* 2nd FSB "Mustang"
* 44th ENG Bn
* Battery B, 5th Bn, 5th ADA Rgt


* Camp Hovey
* Fort Carson (Jul-Aug 2005)

Official Homepage

* 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division

* 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Strike Force"

2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division -- the 2d Strike Brigade -- is the Army’s only Light/Heavy Brigade, with two Air Assault Battalions (1-503rd AA & 1-506th AA).

2nd Brigade Combat Team (Strike Force) acts as deterrence of North Korean aggression against the Republic of Korea (ROK).

A DOD briefing on May 17, 2004 confirmed that elements of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division would be deploying to Iraq as part of OIF 3. The deployment will be for one year and will effect roughly 3,600 soldiers.

By mid-July 2004 the large-scale movement of equipment from the 2nd Infantry Division area to ports in southern South Korea was underway. There it was being packed onto ships and sent to the Middle East. Some 3,600-3,762 2nd Brigade soldiers were to deploy to Iraq by early August and meet up with their equipment once they get in theater.

The US Army announced on September 23, 2004, that the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division would relocate to Fort carson upon completion of the deployment to Iraq as part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 rotation. Upon completion of their deployment in the July-August 2005 timframe, the unit will relocate to Fort Carson, but dependents were expected to begin relocating to the facility prior to that date.

Aren't they supposed to be in Korea?

And the manpower shortage isn't going to get any better.

Letting down the Guard
With 200 dead in Iraq, morale in the tank and reenlistments threatened, the Army National Guard and Reserve are facing a crisis.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Jeff Horwitz

Oct. 30, 2004 | Kenneth Woodring, a 15-year veteran of the military, dropped out of the North Carolina National Guard a few months after returning home from a year-long deployment to Baghdad's Green Zone. The deployment wasn't what he and his fellow soldiers had been expecting. "It wasn't supposed to last very long and we were told it was a peacekeeping mission," Woodring says. "It turned into more than that."

Woodring says he doesn't think the United States was "being as successful over there as we thought we would be." Yet Woodring didn't leave the Guard in protest over how the occupation is being conducted. He left because he wanted to be with wife and three children in Sylva, N.C. After all, he says, his children grew up so much while he was gone, and his youngest daughter, who was 3 months old when he left, didn't remember him when he came back.

Woodring says he's not the only soldier from his company who is getting out of the service and not reenlisting. "We had some old guys, and some of them are retiring. Others are just trying to get out," he says. He expects that up to 40 percent of them will leave and that those who don't will be redeployed to Iraq soon.

Ominous signs that the occupation of Iraq has convinced an unprecedented number of Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers to quit have been surfacing for months. It's a prospect that military experts fear may soon threaten the future of the United States' mission there. Eighteen months of occupying Iraq, they say, has brought America's Army closer to exhausting its supply of volunteer soldiers than at any point since the end of conscription, and placed more of a burden on Army guardsmen and reservists than they or their commanders ever expected.

But unless the next administration, whether George W. Bush's or John Kerry's, can find a way to make the current number of forces stretch further, it will soon face a choice between not sending fresh troops overseas or the politically unthinkable -- resurrecting the draft.

Morale among reservists today is simply in the tank. Reservists who expected to spend six months overseas have had their tours extended to 12 and then 18 months, and cumulatively, more than 410,000 reservists have served since Sept. 11, 2001, and 158,000 are currently on active duty. Many, with expertise in military policing, civil affairs or other specialties in short supply are on their second, or sometimes third, tour. As the insurgency has grown, guardsmen and reservists have accounted for an increasingly higher percentage of American fatalities. Two hundred have died in Iraq, making the Guard and Reserve the active-duty Army's full partners in even the darkest sense.

Even for those undeterred by the length and danger of deployments, the amorphous nature of the Iraq conflict can be tough to handle. "There's a lot of high school kids over there that, while the major conflict was going on, said, 'I want to do this,' and joined the infantry to go over there and kick ass," says former Florida Army Guard Spc. Zach Petersen, who spent 13 months as a machine gunner in Sector 17, Baghdad's Al Wasiria and Maghreb neighborhoods.


Stories like Petersen's don't augur well for Army Guard and Reserve retention rates, as even the military's own May 2004 Survey of Reserve Component Members observes. Obtained by the Air Force Times, but not intended to be publicly released, the survey predicts a sharp drop in expected Army guardsman and reservist retention, especially among those who have served in Iraq: Only 48 percent of Army guardsmen who had been deployed to Iraq said they were likely to reenlist. Forty-five percent of Army reservists reported the same. Even guardsmen and reservists who had not yet been mobilized reported they were less likely to stay in the service.


Although guardsmen and reservists are as well prepared for deployment as they have been in decades, the process of sending them to war has not always gone smoothly. Serious mistakes have afflicted reserve mobilizations, including systemic payroll errors, the accidental deployment of soldiers with serious medical conditions, and equipment shortages. Some of these failures, most obviously the delays in supplying some reserve troops with body armor, have likely cost soldiers their lives. But while National Guard bureau chief Steven Blum's declaration last month that the Guard has "accomplished every single mission it was given" may have been hyperbolic, it wasn't wrong: Operation Iraqi Freedom has required more manpower, skill and sacrifice of the Army's Reserve component than any military campaign since the Korean War.

That the Army Reserve has functioned as well as it has is a credit to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Creighton Abrams, the two men responsible for rebuilding America's military following the Vietnam War. Their efforts to modernize and expand the military's reserves were driven in part by necessity: Postwar military budgets were tight, and part-time soldiers more affordable.

The other rationale for integrating the reserves into the active-duty force was to prevent America from fighting future wars as tepidly as it had fought in Vietnam. In the final years of the war, the military's leadership came to believe that blame for America's defeat in Southeast Asia lay at the feet of the civilian war planners. Presidents Johnson and Nixon, they argued, had placed politics above military success, and waged a war they had neither the stomach to win nor the guts to quit. "Abrams and Laird watched Vietnam destroy the best Army we ever had, and they blamed the politicians for that," says Renee Hylton, a historian for the Army National Guard Bureau. "There was a feeling among the military that they were being forced to fight the war with one hand tied behind their back."

The resilience of the Iraq insurgency left military planners scrambling to close the gap between modest prewar manpower estimates and daunting postwar demands. Extensive military obligations elsewhere, and more than a decade of bipartisan reductions to the size of the active-duty force, made that impossible without an escalating reliance on guardsmen and reservists: In January, guardsmen and reservists accounted for 20 percent of our troops in Iraq, in May 30 percent, and now just under 50 percent.

A great deal has been said about the strain on the Army National Guard and Reserve during the 2004 presidential campaign. But there's little reason to believe that a new administration will slow the pace of Guard and Reserve deployments. Methods currently proposed to alleviate stress on the Army are anything but quick fixes: Bush's plan to recall troops from Europe and Asia wouldn't even begin until 2006, and significantly expanding the active-duty force not only would take years to complete, but may not even be possible.

"In an all-volunteer service, joining the military has to appeal to people, and that's dangerous because just when you need to increase your ranks is just when people are not inclined to join the military, by definition," says Brookings Institution security expert Michael O'Hanlon. Even boosting pay and benefits may not help, says David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland. "We're not going to find an additional 40,000 people who are willing to go on a battlefield for more money."

The strain of multiple two-year deployments would be hard on all military families, Segal notes, but least tolerable to those of Reserve members. "Both active-duty and Reserve families go through a sort of calculus when a unit is deployed to figure out, 'Well, we're being asked to make sacrifices, and is it worth it?'" says Segal. "That calculus is different for Reserve families because they're being asked to make a different magnitude of sacrifice. Unless they live very close to a military base, Reserve families don't have the support system that active-duty families have, and guardsmen and reservists have primary commitments that active-duty soldiers don't. They have jobs, they're in school, they have wives, husbands and kids who don't necessarily buy that going to war is what they're there for."

While National Guard bureau spokesman Maj. John Toniolli concedes that long deployments are taxing to guardsmen, he says there's no good evidence that they'll drive them out of the service. Retention rates in the Guard have been solid for several years, he notes, and just because a soldier says on an Army survey that he'll quit doesn't mean he will. "Individuals are emotional when they come back," Toniolli says. "But as soon as they get back to their home station, and get back to their routine, a lot of them rethink things."


That leaves the Army to struggle to induce part-time soldiers to enlist and reenlist in a full-time war, a struggle that's getting more difficult every day. Many state Guard recruiting bureaus have yet to find a replacement for the slogan "Work one weekend a month and two weeks a year!" -- an enticement that now comes with a serious caveat.

If Reserve service can no longer be counted on as a worthy part of civilian life, what might induce soldiers to reenlist is a far more abstract concept. "Part of the reason people join the Army is a sense of citizenship duty," says Segal. "I think that we as a nation and our military manpower managers underestimate the degree to which young people in the United States are patriotic, are committed to the nation."

To what extent the Army can rely on patriotism to fuel recruiting and reenlistment is hard to predict. Many of those who chose to serve in the past, like Staff Sgt. Kenneth Woodring and Spc. Zach Petersen, may be proud of their service, but unwilling to repeat it. "It was worthwhile freeing people from the dictatorship of Saddam -- he was running the country by fear," says Petersen, but explains just moments later why he left the Guard: "I got home and realized there was so much stuff I was missing out on while in the service."

Woodring, a veteran of both the first Persian Gulf War as well as the current occupation, is intensely proud of his service. "I wasn't the type of person that just went into the Guard for the retirement or the free college and all that stuff. I did it to serve my country, to do the right thing," he says. He thinks he probably would have reenlisted if doing so hadn't almost certainly meant another deployment that he couldn't afford: "I don't want to go anywhere where I'd have to leave my family."

It's not that they're emotional. they can't afford year long deployments which may cripple them. The more I read, the more I see two choices, a draft to stay in Iraq or going home, regardless of the mess we leave behind.

posted by Steve @ 4:36:00 AM

4:36:00 AM

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