Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Veterans Issues: TROOPS LONG OUT-OF-UNIFORM SENT TO IRAQ

Spc. Chris Carlson had been out of the U.S. Army for 2 years and was working at Costco in California when he received notice that he was being called back into service.

Yahoo News
By: Rebecca Santana/AP
August 19, 2006

The 24-year-old is one of thousands of soldiers and Marines who have been deployed to Iraq under a policy that allows military leaders to recall troops who have left the service but have time left on their contract.

"I thought it was crazy," said Calrson, who has found himself protecting convoys on Iraq's dangerous roads as part of a New Jersey National Guard unit. "Never in a million years did I think they would call me back."

***We are now dealing with a most "untraditional" Administration.

Although troops are allowed to leave active duty after a few years of service, they generally still have time left on their contract with the military that is known as "inactive ready service" status or IRR. During that time, they have to let their service know their current address, but they don't train, draw a paycheck or associate in any other way with the military.

***That needs to be changed, but this Republican President and Congress only make things worse for our troops, while all the time, claiming that they support our troops!

But with active duty units already completing multiple tours in Iraq, the Pentagon has employed the rarely used tactic of calling people back from IRR status, a policy sometimes referred to as a "backdoor draft."

According to the U.S. Army Reserve, approximately 14,000 soldiers on the IRR status have been called to active duty since March 2003 and about 7,300 have been deployed to Iraq. The Marine Corps has mobilized 4,717 Marines who were classified as inactive ready reserve since Sept 11, and 1,094 have been delpoyed to Iraq, according to the Marine Forces Reserve.

The 1st Squadron of the 167th Cavalry, which is based in Lincoln, Neb. and oversees the New Jersey guard unit here in Iraq, has about 40 IRR soldiers within its ranks of roughly 1,000 soldiers, and officers in the squadron say the troops have merged into the unit without any problems.

Jason Mulligan, 28, of Ridgefield, Conn., left the army back in 2002 after 2 years in the infantry. He was working as a painting contractor while studying wildlife conservation when he received his letter last fall alerting him that he'd been mobilized.

The letter was followed up by another letter to Mulligan that if he didn't comply, the government would prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.

"My family and my fiancee were telling me 'Don't report. Don't show up,' said Mulligan, who also serves with a New Jersey National Guard unit as a gunner on a Humvee helping patrol the terriroty around Camp Anaconda, a base about 50 miles north of Baghdad. "And I thought, 'Well, I got that nasty letter saying they were going to put me in jail if I didn't show up."

Anthony Breaux, 24, from La PLace, La., said he had a feeling that eventually he would be recalled to service after hearing of so many other soldiers who were pulled from IRR status. Breaux, who left active duty in September 2002, said he knew it was part of the bargain when he joined the army.

"Well, I signed up. I signed the papers. So you know what? I got to do what I got to do," Breaux said, before getting ready for a reconaissance partrol around Camp Anaconda.

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Arlington, Va.,-based Lexington Institute, said part of the reason that the military has called up so many people who were on reserve status is that certain skill sets such as military police or civil affairs were concentrated in the reserves after the Cold War ended.

But he said the sheer numbers of IRR soldiers being mobilized also are a sign that the military doesn't have enough people to fight this war, now in its fourth year.

"It seems clear in retrospect that the active-duty force wasn't big enough to sustain a 'long war' against global terrorism, and also lacked the proper mix of skills to wage war with maximim effectiveness," Thompson said.

That thought is echoed by many of the IRR soldiers. Mulligan said the military's reliance in IRR soldiers shows how 'desperate' the services are for troops.

"Maybe it says something for maybe the way the military is treating the people that are over here, because they're just not wanting to stay on," said Mulligan.

Some of the IRR soldiers, such as Carlson, still will have time on their military contracts when they return from this deployment, meaning they could possibly be called back another time. But others will end their IRR status around the same time their deployment in Iraq ends next spring or will have so little time left that they would not be deployed again.

***This "untraditional" Administration will find a way to make up that time!

Spc. Mark Wiles, 27, of Phoenix, said his 6-1/2 years of active duty and the time he'll have served on this deployment mean that his reserve status will be over when the unit gets home. The only way that the military could keep him in is if they extended the unit's stay in Iraq.

"Those of us who are IRR are seriously hoping they don't do that," Wiles said.

***For their sake, I hope they don't do that either, but they must be prepared for the worst when it comes to the policies of this Administration!



Afghanastan: TALIBAN'S TERROR TACTICS RECONQUER AFGHANASTAN

"If we die, we are martyrs - if we live, we are victors," say the Taliban in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. They have taken control of the area in less than 2 weeks. For, with ever accelerating speed, the Taliban are conquering south-west Afghanastan from the government, American and NATO forces sent to fight them.

The Independent
By: Nelofer Pazira
August 20, 2006

It took Besmillah, a villager from Panjwai, three hours to get from his home to Kandahar, a journey that ususally takes an hour. "There were bodies on the road," he says, "at least 40 bodies - of Afghan soldiers - lying in a place called Yakh Chah {Ice Well}, halfway between Shykh Kalandar and the municipality of Panjwai. The Taliban have a madrasa in Shykh Kalandar and they were attacking the municipality from there at first. But now they have taken the whole district. I saw two cars on fire. I had to go through the fields and take side roads to make it to Kandahar."

Panjwai, 30km west of Kandahar, is one of the most prosperous districts in the province. It's been 12 days since the fighting began there. "At first, Canadians were there too," Besmillah says. "But I don't know what happened. They left, and now there is only the Afghan Army."

The Taliban had told the district's mayor that he would be left untouched providing he and his men stay where they are and forbid NATO forces permission to enter the area, Besmillah says.

"The Taliban have kept the soldiers' bodies because they have asked for 10 rocket-propelled grenades in return for each corpse," he says. Another account suggests that the Taliban have asked for the release of prisoners in return for the bodies. Temperature this week have been hitting 44C. "The bodies will rot and people will be affected by their smell." he says.

Another man from Pashmoul, Panjwai, who left his home three days ago, says the Taliban had taken over his village too. "The Taliban were hiding there for a long time," he says. "Before, when the American convoys were passing, we used to ask them: 'Why don't you attack them?' They'd say they didn't have enough weapons, or that they hadn't yet received orders," he explains. "But now, no foreigners can pass. Not in convoys or on foot."

Besmillah - many Afghans only have one name - says that the Taliban search everyone on the road. "I went through three Taliban checkpoints and one government checkpoint by the time I made it to Kandahar. The Taliban were in control right up to Solahan, about 25 km west of Kandahar. They look for papers and check the mobile phones. If a number stored in the phone seems suspicious, they call it. And if the voice answers in English, they immediately kill the owner of the mobile. They don't let anyone from outside the village go into the area."

Besmillah complains that the local people are trapped between the Taliban and the government. "The Taliban came and asked us for food. Then the army came and demanded to know why we were feeding the Taliban. It's our tradition: when someone comes and asks for food, we give it to them. Now it's better that only the Taliban control the area."

Hamid, another villager for Panjwai, says that the Taliban in his district have little money but they have mobile phones. "They are all Afghans. I haven't seen a single outsider among them. But they talk to Pakistan two, three times a day on the phone." Hamid says that the goal of the Taliban is to re-establish their government. "They trust us and tell us a lot of things. They say that once they take Kandahar, they will continue onwards to Kabul till they take all of Afghanastan," he says.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have issued a new law which they have posted on the walls. It says: "We have no courtrooms to take people for questioning. Judgement is made on the raod - wherever an infidel is captured. The order is carried out immediately. The punishment for spying for the government and working with foreigners is beheading."

In Helmand province, where the Taliban control most of the area - despite the presence of 4,000 British troops, a 70-year-old woman and her son were hanged by the Taliban on charges of spying for the government.

Veterans Issues: STOP CONGRESS FROM CUTTING FUNDS FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) HERE'S HOW

As parents of a Soldier on his second combat tour in Iraq, we are members of every Iraq and Afghanastan Veterans organization being formed to specifically look out for the interest of this younger generation of Veterans and their family members.

The Major has been an advocate of Iraq and Afghanastan Veterans following in the footsteps of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and staying away from the traditional mainstream Veterans Service Organizations that have nothing in common with YOUR INTERESTS or needs. They look good on paper, and are decent cheerleaders and flag wavers, but make no bones about it, their priority is recruitment to keep their stagnant "bar and bingo" organizations up and running in preperation for flag waving the next generation on to the next questionable war.

Especially avoid ANY VSO that advocates you do not seek legal assistance in representing you either in appealing your VA claim or VA medical malpractice of DOD medical malpractice, because I guarantee you that between the time the military releases our most severely wounded and the under funded VA Medical system gets them, the vulnerability for medical malpractice will be at it's highest. Find out THE FACTS about legal litigation, the costs involved, and the time it takes BEFORE allowing our government to place our most vulnerable wounded troops and families ON THEIR OWN.

If any troops had been able to complete a military career and our government had treated them this way, a military retiree would have been the first to seek legal remedy in the Courts. Do not believe me. Ask Medal of Honor recipient USAF Colonel Bud Day of Hanoi Hilton infamy, and he is one lawyer who can confirm that seeking legal remedy (All the way to the Supreme Court), to how military recruiters and our government lies to us Veterans is the only language it understands.

Now, Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanastan Veterans of America writes us the WE should be outraged that in the midst of a war, politicians in Washington are gutting funding for the treatment of a serious injury affecting over 100,000 Iraq and Afghanastan veterans. Supporting the troops should be more tha a soundbite!

When a Marine in Fallujah barely escapes an RPG attack, or an IED explodes near a soldier's Humvee, the blast can cause the troop's brain to slam against the inside of his or her skull. The result is Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, which can cause dizziness, problems with vision, hearing, or speech, memory loss and even severe brain damage. At least 100,000 troops serving in Iraq or Afghanastan have been affected with TBI.

So how does Congress respond? By cutting in half the funding for the research and treatment center for TBI. Veterans' care is not the place to cut corners. The Defense Authorization bills are spending about $400B of your money. But TBI research requires only an extra $7M.

IAVA will continue this fight on the airways and in newspapers across the country. Together, we can make a difference for wounded Veterans.

Folks, as members of Veterans for America (VFA), some of us also members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Major is not asking anyone to join IAVA, but to USE their QUICK LINK and READY MADE Letter to the Editor to bombard your local newspapers with as many complaints as WE can. THAT IS WHAT AN ON-LINE GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT IS ALL ABOUT. Yes, it is most fun to hit the streets in protest and raise hell, but it can be just as rewarding to have an impact by OVERWHELMING Congress and THE MEDIA with so many letters to the editor that "YES" they will not get printed BUT THEY WILL NOT BE IGNORED EITHER. Here is Ours that went to every newspaper in our OHIO Congressional District (OHIO is a battleground Election State):

Congress is Slashing Funding For Treating Soldiers with Brain Injuries

WE are writing as parents of a Soldier on his second combat tour in Iraq to express our outrage that Congress is slashing funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries sustained by American troops in the Middle East.

Traumatic Brain Injury causes dizziness, vision, hearing and speech problems, memory loss, and even severe brain damage. Military experts say that one in ten new veterans, or more than one hundred thousand people, suffer from TBI. But the 2007 Defense Appropriations bill gives TBI research and treatment only $7M---half of what it received last year. America's wounded warriors deserve better.

Congress should take immediate action to reinstate funding for this program. If the bill passes as it currently stands, we will have failed the thousands of wounded veterans who have sacrificed so much and served their country so honorably.

Major & Mrs. Robert L. Hanafin
USAF-Retired
Address removed for privacy reasons

***To send your letter, go to www dot iava dot org

Veterans Issues: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS "AND" SUPPORTING BUSH


How many cars have you seen with those magnetic yellow (or red, white and blue) ribbons that read "Support Our Troops?" Supporting our troops is, of course, a sentiment that we can all get behind. I personally feel very strongly about this---the troops deserve our unwavering support. These man and women are performing their duties with honor and valor, in the most extreme conditions, putting their lives on the line so that we might enjoy the many liberties that are all too often taken for granted by the American people.

I must insist, however, that "Support Our Troops" means just that---that we support our troops. This is a completely seperate and distinct issue from whether we support the Bush Administration's policies---especially in regards tohow this Administration has treated our troops, and how the Administration has handled the war in Iraq.

How many of the cars with those magnetic ribbons also have bumper stickers supporting President Bush? That really bugs me. The people who believe that they can support our troops while simultaneously supporting President Bush are either simply uninformed---totally, completely, catastrophically uninformed---as just to how terrible the Administration has been to our troops, or they are using the phrase "Support Our Troops" as a euphemism for "Support Bush Policies," which would be outrageous---a blatant attempt to use the weel-intentioned support we all feel for our troops for partisan political gain. I would argue that if you support President Bush, you support policies that actually do great harm to our troops. To demonstrate why this is true, I offer the following summary of President Bush's policies regarding our troops:

In a time of WAR,

1. He opposed new tax provisions that would have helped military homeowners, reservists who had traveled long distances for training, and parents deployed in combat zones.

2. His 2005 Budget Proposal cut veterans' health care.

3. He opposed full health benefits for reservists and guardsmen serving in Iraq and Afghanastan.

4. He supported closing Walter Reed Army Hospital.

5. He supported closing seven VA hospitals.

6. He opposed increasing our veterans' health care benefits by $1B.

7. He proposed doubling the cost of prescription drugs for veterans.

8. He proposed cutting our troops' combat pay by 30%.

9. He proposed cutting assistance to our troops' families by 60%.

10. He opposed an amendment to the 2005 Bankruptcy bill that would have exempted military personnel returning from a combat zone from the fees for the credit counseling required by the bill.

11. He opposed an amendment to the 2005 Supplemental Defense Authorization bill that would have added $1.9B to the VA system. (the system ran out of money in June of 2005; Congress had to pass an emergency spending authorization for the system to remain open)

12. He instituted "Stop-Loss," preventing troops whose enlistments had run out from leaving the military. (this amounts to a "back-door-draft" and undermines the notion of an all-volunteer military).
13. Over 2 years into the war, the Bush Administration had still not provided proper armor for the vehicles used by our troops, forcing our troops to rummage through junkyards looking for sheets of metal they could bolt to the outside of their vehicles.

14. He cut funding for VA staff that evaluate health care and disability benefits claims at a time when the number of these claims were rising dramaticlly due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanastan, creating a backlong that forces our veterans to waits month---or, in some cases, years---before those claims are resolved.

15. Under President Bush, more and more of the families of our Reservists and National Guard are having to declare bankruptcy as a result of their service to our country.

16. Under President Bush, wounded soldiers are charged for their meals while they recover from their injuries in military hospitals.

17. Under President Bush, the final paychecks sent to the families of our soldiers killed in combat are docked for the number of days the soldier was dead.

18. The Pentagon has identified over 330 troops hit with military debts after being wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanastan. This "financial friendly fire," instituted under President Bush, includes being charged for equipment (Kevlar helmets, rucksacks, etc.) not properly accounted for after their battlefield injuries, being given unreasonably short notice on having to return large lump sums of "combat pay" inadvertently paid to them while they were recovering in military hospitals (and were therefore no longer in a "combat zone), etc. Many wounded troops have even been aggressively hounded by collection agencies while learning to live without an arm or leg, and now have derogatory information on their credit reports.

19. In October of 2005, or about two and one-half years into the Iraq war, the Bush Administration finally committed to reimbursing troops for body armor they (or their families) had purchased on their own---armor that should have been provided to them by the military in the first place, but....

20. In January 2006, a secret Marine Corps report determined that 80% of the Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanastan between April of 2004 and June of 2005 could have survived if their body armor was more effective. Some troops have complained about the body armor issued by the military, the "Interceptor OTV" system, arguing that it limits mobility and has gaps in critical areas. Many have opted to use their own money (about $6,000) to purchase a different brand of body armor, Pinnacle's "Dragon Skin," which they consider to be far superior in both ballistic protection and in mobility. However, the Bush Administration has actually threatened our troops that if they are killed in battle while wearing any body armor other than the "Interceptor OTV" body armor issued by the military, their families "could" lose the $400,000 death benefit they would normally be entitled to.

All of this is in addition to the Bush Administration policy of pre-emptive war, which sent our troops into harm's way without sufficient cause. A simple test we can use to determine whether there is sufficient cause for war is that the reason for going to war should be obvious---it should not take a year-long "PR" campaign to convince the American people that we need to go to war! After Pearl Harbor, no one doubted the need to go to war. After the attacks of 9/11, no one doubted the need to go to war (I supported---and still support---the war in Afghanastan, but I wish President Bush would have put the effort he has out into Iraq---a troop level around 150,000 and $300B spent over 3 years---into Afghanastan and the search for Osama bin Laden instead).

The above list does not include the Bush Administration's poor handling of the Iraq occupation, the apparent inability to eliminate the insurgency, or the complete lack of planning for getting the troops out of Iraq. President Bush keeps saying we are going to stay in Iraq until "the job's done," but he has offered no explanation as to just what that phrase means. How will we know? What benchmarks have to be reached for the job to be considered "done?" We (and the Iraqi people) reached the big ones: the January, 2005 election was an incredible success (seriously---kudos to the Iraqi people on that one!) Phenomenal turnout. The new Iraq Constitution has been drafted, and was then ratified in yet another amazing turnout. Great! On December 15th, 2005, the first Parliamentary elections under the new Constitution took place---the Sunnis even participated in large numbers this time---and from that Parliament was chosen a new Prime Minister, who set up a Government. Wow---Democracy has taken root in Iraq! (But now is up for grabs because the Bush Administration can't get a hold on security, which will lead to civil war, which has already started!)


The Mission has been accomplished!

So why aren't we able to leave? Is there some other benchmark that must be met? No one in the Bush Administration seems to be able to give specific answers on this, and Haliburton is currently building 14 "enduring" (meaning "permanent") bases in Iraq. It kind of makes you wonder if we're ever leaving, eh? Why won't Bush give our troops a straight answer?

All of these policies are widely known and have been published in the press, meaning that anyone who supports President Bush also supports, by extension, each and every one of the policies listed above, and therefore cannot possibly claim to support our troops. If you voted for Bush in 2004, you voted to continue these policies, and you have done great harm to our troops in the process. Perhaps you didn't know---you didn't realize how significantly your vote would harm the troops serving our country. Perhaps you believed the now-discredited "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth," or you just coulnd't stand John Kerry. Whatever.

ALL I CAN SAY, IS IF YOU REALLY SUPPORT OUR "TROOPS," THEN YOU NEED TO BE BETTER INFORMED ABOUT HOW OUR TROOPS WILL BE TREATED WHEN YOU CAST YOUR VOTES (FOR THE REPUBLICANS).


It matters

Frankly, I find the misuse of the "Support Our Troops" sentiment by our elected leaders (and their appointees) to be outrageous and disrespectful to the troops---as stated earlier, it is an attempt to use the well-intentioned support we "all" feel for our troops for partisan gain. Those who would manipulate the honorable sentiments of well-intentioned Americans as a means of actually harming our troops should hang their heads in shame.

What policies would support our troops? That's easy---the following list is fairly obvious and straightforward:

1. Pay the troops as much as our nation can possibly afford.

2. Give our troops every tax break that we can think of.

3. Provide the troops with the best training ever devised by military minds.

4. Arm them with the best equipment and weapons we can develop---"before" they enter a combat zone.

5. When troops are wounded in combat, provide them with world-class medical attention, at no financial cost of any kind to the troops.

6. Support our military families at a level that guarantees that, "at the very least," no military family will ever have to declare bankruptcy as a result of serving our country.

7. Most important, we should honor our troops' willingness to put their lives on the line for our country by only asking them to go into harm's way when it is "ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY"---and "NEVER" just for our leaders' economic or political gain.

The Bush Administration has done none of these things, AND OUR TROOPS ARE PAYING THE PRICE!

YOU HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE: DO YOU SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, OR DO YOU SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH? (...and the Republicans?)

YOU CAN'T SUPPORT BOTH!


***It's not Bush and/or his Republican Congress that is giving you your freedoms, ( as a matter of fact, Bush is "unconstitutionally" taking away your liberties!) it is a veteran that gave you those rights! So think about it when you go to the polls this November. All of those who support Bush, do not support our troops, you are actually doing great harm on them! It is our troops' fighting to keep us free, no Bush!


Discourse and Diatribe dot com
By: David Bleidistel
2006