Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Observer: "Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq"

Sunday's Observer has a story titled:
Fatigue cripples US army in Iraq
Those crazy Brits obviously don't understand that we're supposed to be spinning the war as a success, in anticipation of the September call for another Friedman Unit.
Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis .
Overworked, denied normal breaks between rotations, and sent back again and again and again. As Stacy Bannerman wrote, five months ago, in Foreign Policy in Focus:
Pentagon statistics reveal that the suicide rate for U.S. troops who have served in Iraq is double what it was in peacetime.

Soldiers who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked. According to a report recently released by the Defense Manpower Data Center, suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006. One of the reasons for "the higher suicide rate in Iraq [is] the higher percentage of reserve troops," said military analyst James F. Dunnigan.
And as the Guardian article elucidates:
A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust.

Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the once again vacationing Commander Guy sees things differently:
President Bush, presiding over a nation dispirited by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on Saturday cast both conflicts in terms of "encouraging news." In stating his case, the president emphasized enemy deaths.
Sure. Body counts. Just like Vietnam. Because if we kill everyone in the country, we're bound to win. Eventually. Maybe.

It must be nice to see things in such a rosy light. The rosy light of Maine in August. While halfway around the world people are being murdered and maimed, every day, on your behalf.

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