Today is our 3,051st day in Iraq and our 3,579th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing wars, courtesy of antiwar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4474
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4335
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3615
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 246
Since Operation New Dawn: 46
Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 318
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,680
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 927
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,487
Journalists - Iraq : 348
Academics Killed - Iraq: 448
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through: $ 1, 226, 120, 275, 000. 00
We've been arguing about the debt for what seems like forever. Thus far, the mantra has been cuts, cuts, CUTS!. Including perhaps, the hallowed military budget. This may have direct consequences for our troops in the field. While I'm not sure I personally agree with military spending, there is another point of view, and we'd be doing you all a disservice not to present it. A number of Republicans are starting to question if military budget cuts in wartime are the right move.
America’s all-volunteer military is the most well-trained, well-equipped fighting force the world has ever seen. But the strength of our armed forces should not be taken for granted.
Without sustained investments in our troops and their equipment, the military power our nation now wields in defense of our security—including our economic security—will slowly be hollowed out. The result is likely to be an America that can go fewer places and do fewer things in defense of its global interests.
While that may sound good to those who remain uncomfortable with America’s leadership role in the world, starving the military will not make us any safer, given the global demands on our security interests.
The U.S. military confronts readiness shortfalls and a growing array of risks and security challenges. That is why I am deeply concerned about the avalanche of military spending cuts being discussed — from President Barack Obama’s $400 billion proposal to the Senate’s Gang of Six proposal that could cut up to $886 billion.
The time to draw a line in the sand, and go on the offense to support national security must be now.
Let’s be clear: Defense spending is not what put us in this position, and gutting the defense budget to pay the bills is unlikely to get us out of it. As a percentage of our gross domestic product, the defense budget remains just 3.6 percent. This figure is low by all historical standards.
Even if we start slashing major portions of the budget — say $50 billion each year over the next decade — that figure would still only add up to a fraction of the nation’s debt. Yet the additional risk to the nation could be substantial.
Today’s military is worn out from a decade of operations that have pushed already aging platforms to the edge. More than half the Navy’s deployed aircraft are not fully combat ready, as we recently discovered at a House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing, and approximately one in five of our Navy ships are deemed unsatisfactory or mission degraded.
With known shortfalls in the Navy maintenance accounts, the Defense Department would be severely challenged to meet the expected service life of its equipment. Even more concerning are the assessments from our Combatant Commanders in the unclassified portion of the Quarterly Readiness Report to Congress. This paints a distressing picture of a military stretched thin by nearly 10 years of war and a sustained lack of resources.
As we often do here at Ask A Vet, we'll be dramatically shifting gears between stories. While the politicians argue over who's paying for all this, there's one group that's been paying for it all along. The cost is high; it's the children of deployed soldiers that are paying the price.
An adolescent whose parent is sent on military deployments is more likely to have suicidal thoughts and feel depressed than the child of civilians, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
The report drew on a 2008 mental health survey distributed in Washington schools. It's believed to be one of the broadest studies yet directly comparing military teens with the children of civilians since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began a decade ago.
Its lead author hopes it will lead to increased awareness about stresses on military children and motivate new efforts to help teens.
"It's really time to focus on the children that are left behind," said Sarah Reed, the lead author of the report, which was published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.
More than 10,600 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students filled out the 2008 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey. The state distributes the survey every two years.
The one in 2008 was the first to ask questions about whether a child's parent had deployed in the previous six years. At the time, Washington's population included more than 60,000 active-duty service members, the sixth most in the country.
Researchers found that boys are most sensitive to the stress of a parent's deployment. For example:
Forty-four percent of 10th- and 12th-grade boys who reported having a parent serving in uniform overseas felt they had a low quality of life.
Among civilian families, 20 percent of boys in those age groups reported a low quality of life.
Thirty percent of 10th- and 12th-grade boys whose parent had deployed felt depressed compared with 20 percent of boys in civilian families.
Twenty-six percent of 10th- and 12th-grade boys with a deployed parent reported suicidal thoughts, whereas 14 percent of boys in civilian families reported having those notions.
High school girls whose parent had deployed overseas also were more likely to report depression, but the differences were not as pronounced.
Reed's report did not try to answer why boys would show more signs of distress, but it cited other studies that suggested boys might struggle to connect emotionally with an absent parent and that they might engage in more high-risk behaviors that could exacerbate their depression.
The report also notes higher percentages of military adolescents reporting binge drinking and drug use than civilian teens.
Much like we've been asking of the Speaker, "Where are the Jobs?", the President was elected on the basis of certain promises. Maybe we should start asking him, "Where are the troops"? But can we do that in good conscience? I almost can't believe I'm writing this, but given the state of the economy, returning soldiers will be coming back to unemployment and a complete lack of support...at least in uniform, they're pulling down a paycheck, right? The uber-cynical part of me wonders if this wasn't the plan all along.