Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked yesterday about a new report indicating that more than half (54 percent) of U.S. soldiers in Iraq reported morale problems in their units.
The Army report indicates that troop morale is suffering due to lengthy deployments. One would expect the Secretary of Defense who sent the soldiers into war to now step up and take accountability, right?
“I’ve tried to get the Army to look at the length of the tours and I think at some point down the road they will,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a briefing.
It’s the Army’s fault. Rumsfeld’s trying to cut the length of tours, but the Army keeps getting in the way. Rumsfeld was alerted to the negative effect his stop-loss orders (which keep troops on the battlefield beyond their expected term of deployment) were having on troop morale when he visited Iraq-bound soldiers in Kuwait last year. Here’s what one soldier said:
“My husband and myself both joined a volunteer Army,” said the woman, who identified herself as a staff sergeant in a logistics unit from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “Currently, I’m serving under the stop-loss. I would like to know how much longer you foresee the military using this program.”
Rumsfeld said the policy “is something you prefer not to have to use in a perfect world.”
“It’s basically a sound principle. It’s nothing new; it’s been well understood” by soldiers, Rumsfeld said. “My guess is it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used.”
So in December 2004, he says extended deployments are a sound principle and will continue to be used. Then, troop morale goes down, and Rumsfeld suddenly hides behind the Army. We shouldn’t expect any less from the man who said, “you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want.”