The Bush administration announced last month that all U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq would have their 12-month tours in Iraq extended by 3 additional months.
The forced extensions place an extreme burden on soldiers in Iraq, whose strains “are in some ways more severe than those borne by the combat forces of World War II,” Army researchers say. The also highlight the U.S. military’s current readiness crisis, which has left virtually all of the U.S.-based Army combat brigades “rated as unready to deploy.”
In a little noticed remark late last month, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) said the worst is still to come. During a speech on Congress’ Iraq legislation, Murtha said he has heard rumors that the forced extensions will soon be increased to 18 months. Watch it:
In April, when the 15-month extensions were announced, U.S. soldiers on the ground reacted with “muffled outbursts of anger and frustration laced with dark humor.”
“At no time in our military history have Soldiers or Marines been required to serve on the front line in any war for a period of 6-7 months.” A quarter of all soldiers who spend 6 months in Iraq show signs of mental trauma.
I went to Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, and Fort Stewart. These folks are burned out. The truancy rate is up in the schools. The achievement is down in the schools where our troops’ children go. One soldier said to me, first sergeant, [a] woman, she says, I hate to tell my children I’m going back to Iraq. They’re going back the third and fourth time! A general says to me, I can only take nine months! And we’re sending them back for 15, and I hear rumors they’re going to extend them to 18 months. We have an accountability bill, this is called the Iraq accountability bill. This war has been so mismanaged that we have the responsibility to force the Whtie House to be accountable. The policy is not set by the military. The policy is set by the White House and we have to hold the White House accountable for the mistakes that they have made.