Third Party & Independents Archives

And Dubya Fiddled While the U.S. Army Burned

What will it take? What will it take before the continuing failure of leadership from the Bush Administration, and Bush personally as Command-n-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, falls upon the American people and U.S. Army and Guard & Reserve like a hurricane?

A strong category 5 monster building in the South Atlantic, threatening, but then lingering, then threatening, then finally making landfall, spreading chaos and destruction in wide unrelenting swaths across an innocent land. Is that the magnitude of disaster it would take before America wakes up and rids itself of this embarrassingly incompetent Republican Administration?

Members of Congress (mostly democrats) and military experts within and without Pentagon are troubled by the increasingly clear fact that the U.S. Army is being strained by extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than half of the Army's 33 active duty combat brigades are serving in those countries (mostly in Iraq) or preparing to deploy there (see / Morning Edition for a lengthy and interesting piece on this subject). They point to a looming crisis within the nation’s largest armed force and its reserve component. And yet the Bush Administration failing the leadership test again, declines to act decisively to avert certain disaster. Instead of making the hard choices—like growing the Army by at least two or more divisions—the Bush Administration calls in the Marines to perform a mission they are not designed to do; institutes morale-busting stop-loss measures; calls upon the inactive ready reserve; and continues to disrupt the lives of reservists in ever increasing numbers, pushing that institution to the breaking point. Despite all these measures designed to put more boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, the civilian leadership (and I use the term very loosely) at the Pentagon foolishly clings to the notion that there is no need to grow the standing Army.

It is doubtful, even at a cursory glance, that the U.S. Army could fight another major conflict, as called for in long standing U.S. military doctrine, with active duty troop strengths at its current level. I am left wondering, where is the disconnect? Why the resistance to doing what is right? Politics? Shame on Bush! Is it so hard for the Republican led Administration to admit that it was wrong to try and fight two conflicts without growing the Army in a substantial way? Is Rumsfled so hell-bent on proving his concept(s) of concentric warfare that he is willing to break the U.S. Army to do it? And are we, the American people so blinded by Administration political spin and fear-mongering that we are willing to stand by and let it happen?

I know it’s a dirty word for those who would love to continue to embrace the fantasy of a leaner, smaller Army of One to combat the “new” threat of the 21st century and beyond, but the draft is the only sensible way to alleviate the impending implosion of the U.S. Army and the Guard & Reserve system while fighting this set of wars. I roundly reject the notion that conscripts would be useless on the battlefield. Such an argument is an insult to all American men (and women), and paints them with a cloth of cowardice that is unwarranted and unsubstantiated. Will they not receive the same training as all Army soldiers? Conscripted or not, put a man in harms way and he will fight.

As a Veteran I am incensed that the once proud U.S. Army has been brought to this point by a civilian leadership that fails to lead with intelligence, wisdom, and foresight. This is clear failure of leadership. And once again Nero (Dubya) is fiddling while Rome burns and no one around him has the courage to tell the Emperor he has no clothes. Will we, the American people have the courage and wisdom to do so come November 2nd?

Posted by V. Edward Martin at July 8, 2004 12:59 PM