Monday, March 12, 2007

I Wondered How That Would Work ...

image credit: U.S. Army
Here's the caption that went with it:

Soldiers scramble for better positions during a rooftop gunbattle with insurgents in the Al Doura section of Baghdad, March 5. The Soldiers are from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

A couple of years ago, before the "surge", someone observed that every major combat unit the U.S. Army and Marines had was either in Iraq and Afghanistan or training to go there. Now that we're adding another 20,000-30,000 troops in Iraq, without the force increase necessary to cover that many more soldiers overseas, you probably wondered where those additional bodies would come from, didn't you? Mark Benjamin tells us where at least some of them are coming, which is from the ranks of those who really should be medically discharged:

On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. These are the men responsible for handling each soldier's "physical profile," an Army document that lists for commanders an injured soldier's physical limitations because of medical problems -- from being unable to fire a weapon to the inability to move and dive in three-to-five-second increments to avoid enemy fire. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny.

The 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade is now leaving for Iraq for a third time in a steady stream. In fact, some of the troops with medical conditions interviewed by Salon last week are already gone. Others are slated to fly out within a week, but are fighting against their chain of command, holding out hope that because of their ills they will ultimately not be forced to go. Jenkins, who is still in Georgia, thinks doctors are helping to send hurt soldiers like him to Iraq to make units going there appear to be at full strength. "This is about the numbers," he said flatly.


And while [Col. Wayne W.] Grigsby, the brigade commander, says he is under no pressure to find troops, it is hard to imagine there is not some desperation behind the decision to deploy some of the sick soldiers. Master Sgt. [Ronald] Jenkins, 42, has a degenerative spine problem and a long scar down the back of his neck where three of his vertebrae were fused during surgery. He takes a cornucopia of potent pain pills. His medical records say he is "at significantly increased risk of re-injury during deployment where he will be wearing Kevlar, body armor and traveling through rough terrain." Late last year, those medical records show, a doctor recommended that Jenkins be referred to an Army board that handles retirements when injuries are permanent and severe.

The Army is ordering injured troops to go to Iraq

[Bold emphasis mine. Of course, as with all articles at Salon, you must either have a subscription or sit through an advertisement. I've subscribed for years and don't regret it one bit.]

These soldiers are being ordered to a war zone even though their injuries prevent them from wearing helmets or body armor. Imagine the guy on the bottom of that picture has a bad back. Pass this tale along to your kids when they say they want to join the Army and serve their country.

What do you expect from a country that won't teach basic mathematics skills to its children, and thinks that cavemen rode dinosaurs?

UPDATE: Isn't this precious? Right wing slime artist Ann Coulter will be publishing a new book soon. The title is If Democrats Had No Scruples, They'd Be Republicans, or something like that. In the past, I've resisted the urge to join those accusing Coulter of being a transexual sociopath, feeling that labeling her a sociopath was both sufficient and more fitting. However, in view of her recent comments about John Edwards, I may have to reconsider that policy.

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