A magazine article about the frequency of military deployments caught my eye with a fact I had not known: “. . . many combat units have been deployed to war zones every other year for almost a decade.”
I knew it was bad, but not that bad. The article, entitled “When Are We Asking Too
Much?“, also mentions that some “national leaders” have proposed a “goal” of getting to a 1 to 2 or a 1 to 3 ratio of “home time”, but that has apparently gone nowhere. America’s leaders seem to have decided that the present 50/50 ratio is sustainable even
as symptoms of severe problems appear almost daily in the media.
What are the symptoms of “Too Much”? Well, for one thing, the suicide rate is at a 17-year high. Mental illness in the Army is increasing dramatically, as told in this USA Today article. ” . . . in 2009, for the first time in 15 years, mental health disorders caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops than any other medical condition, including battle wounds. There are other problems too. The quality of recruits is declining from lack of physical fitness, e.g., obesity, and the breakup of family mores. Consequently the Army has been lowering standards, accepting some criminal backgrounds and/or people with behavioral problems. That may be behind the growing problems of corruption, excessive aggression and domestic abuse within the services.
I all too vividly recall one period spanning 19 months in my own military career (Viet Nam) during which I was deployed away from home port for 14 of those months and was home only on weekends for 3 of the other months. This was at a time when my 3 sons were aged 8 to 10 and I desperately wanted to be home. The stress and frustration that builds up under such conditions was intense for both me and my wife. Even with that I
find it hard to imagine what it must be like for a family that has had four year-long deployments in eight years. There is no doubt in my military mind that that is indeed “Asking Too Much”. For a distaff viewpoint, I recommend this LINK.
Americans are sympathetic to our troops and express patriotism, but do not feel a part of the “war”. This is because the definition of “war”
has changed. The Afghan “war” strategy is currently one of nation-building, and it is one that has, in my opinion, little chance of success. The public increasingly agrees. Nobody seems to know what “winning” would even look like. We are not going to turn these warring, semi-literate tribesmen into anything really stable, especially when the so-called Afghan government is corrupt to the core.
al Qaeda and the Taliban are strengthening rather than weakening. This is not because we can’t defeat them,
but because we can’t FIND them. This is guerilla warfare and the enemy doesn’t wear uniforms. Islam is growing while Christianity, at least in the First World countries, is in decline. Further, Islamic terrorists’ recruiting is aided by vast numbers of poorly-educated Muslims providing personnel for suicide bombing and cannon fodder.
We can not pull out of Afghanistan abruptly, but we need a strategy that leads to getting out and doing the job better. I have been wracking my brain about how to approach this Gordian Knot of a problem. How about this? Why can’t we approach the problem with specialized units authorized to find and assassinate the heads of terrorist schools and organizations instead of trying to rebuild Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia, etc., etc.??????
Coincidentally, tonight’s (8/1/2010) CBS’s 60 Minutes had a feature showing that the CIA has already had early success with this kind of strategy. Cut off the monster’s head and it will die. Then maybe we can stop trying to kill flies with a sledgehammer.