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News ::
PENTAGON BRASS FEAR RESERVIST WALKOUT (english)
04 Oct 2003
15,000 MOBILIZED FOR IRAQ: PENTAGON BRASS FEAR RESERVIST
WALKOUT

By Dustin Langley
-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 9, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

15,000 MOBILIZED FOR IRAQ: PENTAGON BRASS FEAR RESERVIST
WALKOUT

By Dustin Langley

Lt. Gen. James Helmly has announced that next year he and other Pentagon leaders will be closely monitoring retention rates in the 205,000-person Army Reserve, which he heads. That will be when soldiers stationed in Iraq come off long tours of duty. Will they leave the reserves? "Retention is what I am most worried about. It is my No. 1 concern," Helmly said. (USA Today, Sept. 30)

The Pentagon had mobilized two more Army National Guard brigades,
numbering more than 10,000 troops, for deployment to Iraq and notified another 5,000 soldiers that they might be next. The 30th Infantry Brigade from North Carolina and the 39th Infantry Brigade from Arkansas will mobilize in early October.

A Sept. 27 Department of Defense statement said: "These units can expect to be in the Iraqi theater for up to 12 months. The total length of mobilization is up to 18 months to allow time for equipping, training, mobilizing, leave and demobilizing activities."

Gen. Peter Pace, vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more U.S. National Guard and reserve units could be called to serve in Iraq if the United States fails to convince other countries to join the occupation forces there. "By around the end of October, beginning of November we should be alerting the forces that need to be called up," he told reporters.

With Iraqi resistance continuing, the Pentagon announced in early
September that tours of duty would be extended to a year for both
regular and reserve soldiers.

The summer saw growing dissatisfaction among U.S. troops in Iraq--as
well as increasing complaints from family members at home, some of whom have become anti-occupation activists.

Fernando Suarez de Solar, whose son Marine Lance Corp. Jesus Suarez de Solar was killed in Iraq, recently said: "I lost my son in this illegal war. My grandson lost his father in this Bush war. And I ask you, Mr. President, how many kids do you need for this illegal war?" (Stars & Stripes, Aug. 14)

Troops in Iraq face blistering heat, lengthening deployments and
continuing resistance. They are growing angrier. One officer said: "They vent to anyone who will listen. They write letters, they cry, they yell. Many of them walk around looking visibly tired and depressed. ... We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]."

"Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom," said another soldier, an officer from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. (Christian Science Monitor, July 7)

"The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our
families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress. (CSM, July 7)

A Sept. 26 announcement of the call-up came just as 192 soldiers arrived home from Iraq for two weeks, the first in a rest and recuperation program apparently intended to reduce complaints from families and GIs.

SOME TROOPS HAVE TO PAY THEIR WAY HOME

But even this program, which will eventually be expanded to include 800 troops daily, is drawing fire from military families. It's because the military is only paying for flights as far as Baltimore. Eventually, the Pentagon claims, it will also have flights to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles.

Soldiers who live outside these cities will have to pay for their own
fare to get the rest of the way home. Because of the uncertain
scheduling, they must purchase the ticket on the same day, when it is
most expensive.

Jan Hogan has two nephews stationed in Iraq. Hogan checked the price of a same-day ticket from Baltimore to St. Paul, Minn., and was quoted $1,200. A private in the Army makes just over $1,000 a month. She said President George W. Bush should use some of the money collected in his campaign fundraising tour to help fly the troops the last few miles home.

"I'd like to take some of those millions he raised and help those two
boys as well as all the others," Hogan said of her nephews. (Associated Press, Sept. 27)

PLUS $8.10 A DAY FOR HOSPITAL MEALS

It's not just airfare that the soldiers will have to pay for.
Hospitalized troops, including those wounded in Iraq and
Afghanistan, are being charged for their meals: $8.10 a day.

"Some things don't meet the common-sense test, and this is one of them," said a soldier injured in Iraq in June. He has received two meal bills, one for $24.30 from the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and a second for more than $300 from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

"It's not a good precedent to have when a service member, having
received wounds in Iraq, to see the first correspondence from his
government after he gets out is a bill to pay for the hospital stay,"
said the 16-year Army veteran, who asked his name not be used for fear of reprisal.

Since GIs get a meal allowance of $8.10, the Pentagon wants to get it
back. Said Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch, a Pentagon spokesperson, "The law
now in effect was set in place to prevent troops from double-dipping."

Meanwhile, U.S. corporations are more than "double dipping." Their
wealthy owners are pocketing millions of dollars in contracts from the colonial occupation of Iraq while receiving huge tax cuts from the Bush administration.

According to the Aug. 28 Washington Post, Halliburton, whose former
head, Vice President Dick Cheney, still gets "deferred compensation" of up to $1 million a year, has won more than $1.7 billion in contracts in Iraq. The firm stands to make hundreds of millions more under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) wwpublish.com. Subscribe wwnews-
on (at) wwpublish.com. Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) wwpublish.com. Support the
voice of resistance http://www.workers.org/orders/donate.php)
See also:
www.workers.org
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