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Army Soldiers Bear Brunt of War in Iraq

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Just once I would like the news to report information on Iraq that would be beneficial to the troops currently serving there. How many Americans are currently aware of deployment lengths for Army soldiers? Does anyone know or care that our Army men and women are serving fifteen month deployments with less than twelve months at home? This is longer than any other branch of the armed forces. Our Marines would have the next highest length of deployments currently at nine months, while the Air Force and Navy are only serving six month tours. Fair, I think not.

We have allowed our Military to be divided into categories land, sea and air. I believe that if men and women enlisted in the Military they should be serving equally. One branch of service should not have to bear the brunt of the load based on a category. All of the men and women in the armed forces have been trained in basic weaponry. They know how to load, unload and fire a weapon. These are basic principles that every soldier has been taught regardless of their branch of service. Why are we not utilizing these skills and maximizing our troop reserves? I do not want to hear the reasoning of bickering and feuding military officials with the archaic rationale that one branch of service is better than another. According to the Pledge of Allegiance we are “One nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” Why are we not fighting accordingly?

Why are members of different branches not allowed to volunteer for combat positions currently being held by Army personnel? If the Army can allow soldiers to volunteer for positions outside their military occupational specialty then other branches of service can as well. The Army allows a soldier serving in a role such as Military Intelligence to volunteer for a position as a gunner on a humvee to support convoys in Iraq. These men and women were not given months of special training for these positions. Therefore, months of special training would not be necessary for members of other divisions of the armed forces.

If action is not taken to find relief for Army personnel then the Army will soon have to close up shop. Our men and women cannot continue to sustain these lengths of deployment without incurring physical and mental detriment. Our Government is well aware of this and there have been numerous studies on the mental and physical strain due to prolonged deployments. In 2004 the Army cited that twelve month deployments were to long for our troops and that the mental and physical strain was affecting their performance and well being. Now they have increased their deployment lengths to fifteen months. If twelve months was taxing what will fifteen months do?

Of course the length of deployments is also a consideration factor for young Americans hankering to do their civic duty and fight for their country. The Army is currently having recruitment issues and no one has to ask why. How many young men and women do you suppose will want to join the Army, with fifteen month deployments, when they can join other branches of service where tours of duty are much shorter and less strenuous? Not to mention that soldiers currently serving in the Army will not be re-enlisting and who could blame them. Many have been to Iraq for numerous deployments and had to endure living conditions far worse than our Iraqi prisoners. I find this very sad and disheartening.

Then of course there is the Back Door Draft. This is when the Army holds our men and women hostage and forces them to serve their country after their contract date has expired. How does this happen you ask? Well, the contract our young soldiers sign has a clause that allows the Armed forces to keep them in service past their release date if there is a shortage of trained soldiers to fill critical roles in combat situations. Imagine having your heart set on starting a new chapter in your life and then being told you are going to Iraq for fifteen more months and there is nothing you can do. Now, not only do you have to deal with the stress of a fifteen month deployment, you now have compounded issues of anger and resentment. Does your government care? No! They put you in a uniform, give you a gun and ship you off to destination nowhere. I do not know about you but this makes me mad to think that our government can take advantage of young men and women who have already given more than enough.

I do not care if you support the war in Iraq or not. As Americans we should be giving something back to the men and women who are giving so much for us. Our Army soldiers are risking their lives everyday and many will not return home. They deserve to know that the people of their country are defending them. If you are concerned about the lengths of deployments and the conditions in which our soldiers have to live while serving in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, do something about it. Write your government officials; make them answer to the people. Let them know you disagree with our soldiers serving fifteen month deployments. Now is the time for us, as a nation, to protect and defend our Army soldiers as they defend us so gallantly every day.

P. May

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