Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ill-Serving Those Who Serve

New York Times
July 6, 2004

The Pentagon's decision to press 5,600 honorably discharged soldiers back into service, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the latest example of President Bush's refusal to face the true costs of pre-emptive war. As with other stopgap measures to paper over the poor planning of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, this one demands more from those who have already given the most: volunteer soldiers and their families. And because this call-up comes uncomfortably close to conscription, it highlights more than other emergency deployments the callousness of the administration's failure to budget for an adequate number of ground troops.

Last week's mobilization decision involved the Army's Individual Ready Reserve, a pool of 117,000 former officers and soldiers who have completed their active or reserve duty, but still have time left on the eight-year contracts they signed when they enlisted. Given the urgency of the need for more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can see why tapping that ready reserve was so tempting. But that urgency is of the administration's own making.

To read the rest of this editorial, see New York Times