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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 05/06/2008 10:45:22

Good Morning.

Today is our 1,875th day in Iraq.

We'll start as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from the warron terra, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 4071
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 3932
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3610
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3212
Since Election (1/31/05): 2634

Other Coalition Troops: 309
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 496


We find this morning's cost of war passing through: $ 517, 247, 975, 000 .00


Here at Ask a Vet, we often overlook Afghanistan in the glare of Iraq...but today we'll take a little closer look at this forgotten front.


We all know how succesful "The Surge" was in Iraq...so naturally the Pentagon can't wait to try it in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering sending as many as 7,000 more American troops to Afghanistan next year to make up for a shortfall in contributions from NATO allies, senior Bush administration officials said.

Marines returned fire on Taliban positions on Friday in Helmand Province. The Pentagon is looking at plans to send up to 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan, to make up for a shortfall from NATO allies.

They said the step would push the number of American forces there to roughly 40,000, the highest level since the war began more than six years ago, and would require at least a modest reduction in troops from Iraq.

The planning began in recent weeks, reflecting a growing resignation to the fact that NATO is unable or unwilling to contribute more troops despite public pledges of an intensified effort in Afghanistan from the presidents and prime ministers who attended an alliance summit meeting in Bucharest, Romania, last month.

The shortfalls in troop commitments have cast doubt on claims by President Bush and his aides that NATO was stepping up to provide more help in Afghanistan, where the government of President Hamid Karzai faces a resurgent threat from the Taliban and remnants of Al Qaeda.

The increasing proportion of United States troops, from about half to about two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, would be likely to result in what one senior administration official described as “the re-Americanization” of the war.

“There are simply going to be more American forces than we’ve ever had there,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing future military planning.

A dozen NATO countries have pledged a total of about 2,000 troops, according to senior NATO officials, who provided the information on condition of anonymity according to standard diplomatic rules. Senior alliance commanders in Afghanistan have said they need about 10,000 more troops.

Only one country so far has actually begun preparing more troops to deploy: France, which is sending 700 to Afghanistan, NATO officials said.

Few of the additional troops are expected to arrive any time soon, the officials added.
.


Of course, this jells nicely with Sen. John "Hundred Years War" McCain's future plans...but somebody has to fill those uniforms. Since we don't have a draft [yet], the army has to continually lower it's standards. Is this really the best way to run an army?
When it comes to recruiting troops, just how badly are things going? Well, that depends on how you define "bad."

If having a military sprinkled with felons sounds good to you, then things are going just fine.

But if the thought of sending folks who were convicted of crimes such as theft, drug offenses (other than ones involving marijuana) as well as those who have committed sex crimes, manslaughter and aggravated assault -- some with weapons -- to represent us in Iraq alarms you, brace yourself. You are living in alarming times.

Never mind that the military has also been granting waivers to recruits who haven't graduated from high school. According to The Associated Press, "the Army and Marine Corps brought in significantly more recruits with felony convictions last year than in 2006." While there's something to be said for a sentence served and the grace of redemption, violent ex-convicts (especially for sexual assault, given the high rate of rape and sexual harassment already suffered by female troops) shouldn't be armed and sent overseas.

Add those guys to the thugs employed by some of the security contractors representing the U.S. in Iraq and it's clear that we've given up even the appearance of military honor. And what a blow this is to the top-notch men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving their country. If recruiting felons is our only alternative to a mandatory draft, it's obvious that this war isn't seen as worth fighting by most -- hence the lack of quality recruits.

We couldn't "win" this war for all the oil in the Middle East, and admitting as much is not placing the blame on the troops -- it's placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who manufactured a false case for the invasion and occupation of a country that posed not one iota of threat to the U.S.

And we sure as heck can't win it with an exhausted army patched up with the criminal and the undereducated. This is yet another sign that we need to change the strategy in Iraq -- it's time for a gradual troop withdrawal.



Lastly this morning....I pay far too much attention to the big picture and the high-level things going on for our veterans. Not that that's a bad thing, but there are hundreds of local groups throughout America supporting the troops. A friend of mine recently handed me a business card for Operation American Soldier, based in neighboring Watertown, MA. Their premise is simple...'No soldier walks away from mail call empty-handed.'
Sometimes I wonder why I volunteered to serve this country. Our Commander-in-Chief has ordered us to Iraq or Afghanistan or some other remote country. For some of us, this is the first time we have been away from home. I've made some of the greatest friends I'll ever have, actually they are now my "family". We have shared some of the most interesting, wonderful and frightening moments you can imagine.

The best part of the day (or worst) is "Mail Call". Hearing from home, knowing that someone cares helps me continue day after day. It reinforces my commitment to keeping our country safe. But today, just like so many other days, my name isn't called. Remind me again, Why am I here?

Then a package arrives from someone I don't know. It's addressed to me! A box filled with letters of encouragement, food that is familiar and comforting, books, magazines and other fun stuff. You know what, people do care! We are not forgotten!

Operation American Soldier began when my daughter Tracy was in Iraq. After hearing that some of the other soldiers weren't receiving any support form home, we thought we should help. So we asked from some names and addresses to ship to. Each box contained a letter from us asking if there were any other soldiers that needs support. Well our list of soldiers grew and grew.

Eventually we thought we should ask the community to help us with this program. Sometimes the local newspaper will run a community note . Sometimes we will find boxes of goodies left at our front door. Once in a while we have a nice financial donation to help with the shipping costs. We have shipped to more than 500 soldiers, 9000+ pounds of cheer so far! We ship to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, we have shipped to Chaplains, The Red Cross. Combat Support Hospitals. Our packages have gone to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and even Cuba

Our goal is simple. We will send packages and letters to as many soldiers as

possible, for as long as we can. We will try to bring a little bit of cheer and maybe a smile to the brave men & women that serve in harms way.


This is the group that took all the items the Cub Scout Pack collected over the holidays. Like the army, the "support the troops" movement also depends on 'boots on the ground'. If you can...seek out the veterans support groups in your area, and make sure they know who you are and why you give. All us liberals are Americans, too.



243 comments (Latest Comment: 05/07/2008 02:04:03 by MMB)
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Comment by velveeta jones on 05/06/2008 12:11:16
Morning all, just a quick 'in' before I go out to canvas for Obama. Yesterday was disappointing. They had me canvas in these very well-off neighborhoods, where I literally had to drive my car to go from house to house and up the long, winding driveways.



:thud:



When someone was home, rarely, it was mostly a maid or nanny. Or, in a few cases, stoned hippies.



So, I called the guy in charge and asked about the (name redacted) *black* 'hood. He said they had a hard time getting people in there? ..........What!?!







Velveeta and Aunt Azalea will be going in there today, offering rides and getting people to the polls.





Comment by velveeta jones on 05/06/2008 12:14:21
Oops, forgot to add: great post TriSec! I always tought we should have finished the job in Afghanistan.......... but hey, I'm no brain like George W. "Gilligan" Bush.



:rolleyes:



Carry on ................

Comment by right wing hater on 05/06/2008 12:45:29
Good Morning Everyone!



Daily Reading has been posted to News of the Day in Forum



Happy to report all links went through bellsouth/att today...so for now....looks like an isolated issue, but will keep everyone updated if the Police State crap starts up again...



Highlights of Daily:

10 tough questions for the candidates on oil & gas (how Big Oil is playing the country like a harp)

Obama has big lead in NC 51 to 37 and leads in 45 to 42 in IN (Zogby final poll)

The Republican Great Depression of the 2010s

BradBlog - 1.1 million voters 'purged' in Indiana's open primary courtesy of E-voting systems



And since we're on the war...he's a little something MAJOR for you to have the neocon apologists/right wingnuts/GOP magic bean buyers put in their 'support the troops' pipe and smoke:



GOP 'Supporting the Troops' Update: Post-War Suicides May Exceed Combat Deaths, U.S. Says - Link

The number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care, the U.S. government's top psychiatric researcher said. Community mental health centers, hobbled by financial limits, haven't provided enough scientifically sound care, especially in rural areas.


Comment by m-hadley on 05/06/2008 12:59:50
Mornin' Everybody,

Today's my long day - 7:30am - 8pm - ugh! I'll be following along with the primary returns online from the ref desk :(

Happy Tuesday!

Cheers,

mfaye :hug:

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:07:21
Good Morning everyone!

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:07:54
Heya Faye!







Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 13:15:13
Is this thing on?



So I got this email a couple days ago that the AAP Daily was no more.. No idea what's going on because I really didn't go there very often anymore (for a certain reason)... I guess after the whole thing with Randi getting fired Air America took the final step into the abyss.



Oooh.. we have Youtube linkage here!

Comment by BobR on 05/06/2008 13:19:09
Quote by Scoopster:

Is this thing on?



So I got this email a couple days ago that the AAP Daily was no more.. No idea what's going on because I really didn't go there very often anymore (for a certain reason)... I guess after the whole thing with Randi getting fired Air America took the final step into the abyss.



Oooh.. we have Youtube linkage here!


Welcome aboard!!



oh, and Morning, folks... :coffee:

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:19:12
Quote by Scoopster:

Is this thing on?



So I got this email a couple days ago that the AAP Daily was no more.. No idea what's going on because I really didn't go there very often anymore (for a certain reason)... I guess after the whole thing with Randi getting fired Air America took the final step into the abyss.



Oooh.. we have Youtube linkage here!
HEYA SCOOP!



Welcome!



Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:20:16
Scoopster in the house!





http://www.bonkworld.org/media/img/djbannon.jpg




Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 13:22:22
Heh.. that's pretty much me, only now I can say without the ciggy. I'm about to close out a month without a smoke.



So who else do we have here from the old crew?

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 13:24:32
Good morning everyone.



Another primary day. Stop the madness.

Hi Scoop. Glad you found the place. Now we have to get the few other AAP refugees over. I have been working on mgm without much success .

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:26:50
More than 3.5 Million new voters have registered so far!



Now we just NEED to get them out for the GE!

Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 13:28:58
Quote by livingonli:

Another primary day. Stop the madness.


This primary season has had me I'm so tired of the garbage being thrown and almost none of it at these damn Repubs.

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 13:31:27
Steph will probably be on the pundit pit by the time I get home from work.

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 13:34:46
There are a few Robin Redbreasts outside my window.

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:42:35
a month w/o ? Wow, very impressed there, Scoop!



I dunno if you knew this, but well, click This!!! :D

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 13:42:36
Scoopster's here but the blog is still on a slow start this morning.

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:45:39
Quote by Scoopster:

Quote by livingonli:

Another primary day. Stop the madness.


This primary season has had me I'm so tired of the garbage being thrown and almost none of it at these damn Repubs.
I am SO tired of it as well. I it ends today.







Comment by TriSec on 05/06/2008 13:46:12
Scoop! Ya finally made it!!!



:party:





Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 13:47:01
You also missed our DC meet-up we had the last weekend of April. But, there are pictures you can enjoy.

Comment by wickedpam on 05/06/2008 13:51:41
Morning :hug:





Scoop! It's nice to see ya :D

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:51:42
John McCain chenneled his inner Woodrow wilson yesterday... Video that I can't embed is at the link...



HE said we need a 'League of Nations' to deal with Iran...







Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 13:51:49
Quote by livingonli:

Scoopster's here but the blog is still on a slow start this morning.


Gimme a little while to get back into my usual flow.. I'm a bit backed up here at work from some sick time the past couple weeks.



Dumbass I am I left my window open overnite and it got cold so I got this nasty cough (that's how the whole no smoking thing started).. well that got better but developed into a persistent cough and I thought my lungs were just clearin out 5 years of tar & nicotine.. went to the doctor and he was like "oh that's good that you quit smokin.. you have walking pneumonia."

Comment by m-hadley on 05/06/2008 13:53:08
Heya Scoop, Raine, BobR, VJ, RWH & Liv,

Welcome Scoopster - this here is the official radical miliant librarian of the SMS (faye from Tulsa). Good to have you here -

Cheers,

mfaye

Comment by TriSec on 05/06/2008 13:54:01
Quote by Scoopster:

I really didn't go there very often anymore (for a certain reason)...




Surprising how many other posters we've heard a variation of this from...



:whistling:







Comment by m-hadley on 05/06/2008 13:54:37
Heya Mala & TriSec,

Didn't mean to ignore yous guys :hug:

Cheers,

mfaye

Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 13:56:05
Heya Pam & nice to meetcha Faye! ...and damn Tri where the heck did you run off to?! I dropped into the old place a few times lookin for ya.. even managed to stay for a couple days before I got a lil' frustrated with how the chatter had kinda turned.

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 13:57:28
Did you all hear that? Hillary basically said that SHE doesn't listen enough.. she is in WAshington, isn't she?

Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 13:58:24
Quote by TriSec:

Quote by Scoopster:

I really didn't go there very often anymore (for a certain reason)...




Surprising how many other posters we've heard a variation of this from...



:whistling:




Ohh.. hmm you know, I really don't wanna get into that. I get enough frustration trying to deal with it when I'm up/downrating comments at MyDD.



Comment by TriSec on 05/06/2008 14:00:54
Oh, I've been around. I hung out on UNN for a while last year, then we got this little corner of the internet all done up nice...



Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 14:02:07
Good morning faye and Mala. How is everyone today?

Comment by wickedpam on 05/06/2008 14:03:47
Well, outside of a headache and having no coffee this morning all is fine.

Comment by MNRN on 05/06/2008 14:04:13
yo Scoop and all you lib-eral kidlets. The nurse is late this morning, and just zippin thru.....our credit card got hacked. By someone using it to pay their bills online.



How sad is that. Someone had to hack my card to pay their bills.

Yes I am pissed, I ain't no mutha teresa, but really. How low do people have to go.

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:04:36
Quote by Scoopster:

Heya Pam & nice to meetcha Faye! ...and damn Tri where the heck did you run off to?! I dropped into the old place a few times lookin for ya.. even managed to stay for a couple days before I got a lil' frustrated with how the chatter had kinda turned.
I assume you got my email from yesterday...



We have a few wonderful newer people who are in our family now, Velveeta, who is out canvassing and giving rids to voters today in NC, JD from NY, Shane-o... Faye whom you have met... I know I am forgetting people... Oh, Right Wing HAter pops in here and there, he is a friend of ours that hails from over at C&L... MNRN has been seen and heard from...



HBK posts here every now and then... I talked to her last night, she says hello to everyone!



Izzy is here, :star:ling is here... Mondo (who will be thrilled to see you) is at work most likely... Lessee... I KNOW I am forgetting people, if I did! IT is still early!



Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:06:08
Quote by MNRN:

yo Scoop and all you lib-eral kidlets. The nurse is late this morning, and just zippin thru.....our credit card got hacked. By someone using it to pay their bills online.



How sad is that. Someone had to hack my card to pay their bills.

Yes I am pissed, I ain't no mutha teresa, but really. How low do people have to go.
HEya MNRN.



Damn that sux! I hope you can get things back in order quickly!



Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:07:52
OH! I HOPE we have a politics free hour today!

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:08:47
HEY!!! That is OUR Bob!

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 14:09:21
Morning MNRN. That sucks with the credit card. Hopefully those charges can get scrubbed from your account.

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:09:30
I know becuase I begged him (pathetically) to send it into the show!!

Comment by wickedpam on 05/06/2008 14:09:40
Missed the interview but I thought it was Marylou Retton who was suppose to be in studio

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 14:10:44
MNRN, any luck getting ssg to join our little crew? She might be a little leery as a Hillary supporter, but she is more than welcome.



And then there's mgm.

Comment by wickedpam on 05/06/2008 14:11:22
Quote by Raine:

HEY!!! That is OUR Bob!




Wait! I missed it!



Comment by wickedpam on 05/06/2008 14:11:47
Hey MNRN!

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:12:01
Comment by jd_in_ny on 05/06/2008 14:12:20
morning!

Comment by Scoopster on 05/06/2008 14:12:29
Now Playing: Metallica / One

Comment by livingonli on 05/06/2008 14:13:06
Good morning jd. You need some of this?

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:15:53
IT was a Grampy McCain drop... I don't where he his it in our audicons... when he get's in, I am sure he can find it!

Comment by Raine on 05/06/2008 14:16:43
OMG, Sctuhperware! :unsure: