Jamail: A Broken, De-Humanized Military in Iraq


Richard Moore

  ³I sent to news organizations questioning why so little news
    out of Al-Anbar were unanswered. I believe that it is
    because the US has lost that region, and is suppressing that
    news to the American public. My son called me last week from
    Ramadi and said the war is lost - they are just going thru
    the motions, again, forced to carry out orders and risk
    their lives for an unobtainable and unjust goal.²

Sounds more and more like Vietnam every day.


Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006 10:42:58 -0400
From: •••@••.•••
Subject: Iraq Dispatches: A Broken, De-Humanized Military in Iraq

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
** Website by http://jeffpflueger.com **

      A Broken, De-Humanized Military in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 26 September 2006

While the deranged chicken-hawks who "lead" the US continue their efforts to 
wage another unprovoked war of aggression, this time against Iran, what's left 
of their already overstretched military continues to be bled in Iraq.

When the situation is so critical that even the corporate media is forced to 
report on it, you know it's bad. Last week on the NBC Nightly News, General 
Barry McCaffrey, now retired, said of the current state of the US military, "I 
think, arguably, it's the worst readiness condition the US Army has faced since 
the end of Vietnam." This isn't a big surprise when we consider the facts that 
many soldiers are already into their third combat tour, frequent deployments 
have cut training time at home in half, and two thirds of all Army combat units 
are rated not ready for combat.

The fact that 60% of National Guard soldiers have already reached their limit 
for overseas combat is most likely not going to slow down the Cheney 
administration's lust for more war. Most likely, they'll just have Rummy change 
the Pentagon's policy that currently limits Guard combat tours to two out of 
every five years.

This change was apparently already expected by Lieutenant General Steven Blum, 
of the National Guard, who told NBC, "If you think the National Guard's busy 
today, I think we're going to look back and say 'these were the good old days' 
in about three years." A comment to which General McCaffrey responded: "More is 
being asked of them, particularly the National Guard and reserve components, 
than they signed up to do. And in the near-term, we think it's going to 

That "near-term" seemed to be about 72 hours away from McCaffrey's comments. On 
Monday, the Army announced that because it is stretched so thin by the 
occupation of Iraq, it is once again extending the combat tours of thousands of 
soldiers beyond their promised 12-month tours. It's the second time since August
(i.e., last month) that this has occurred. The 1st Brigade Armored Division, 
which is having its tour extended, just happens to be located in the province of
Al-Anbar, which the military has long since lost control of. Between 3,500 and 
4,000 soldiers are affected by this decision.

The move prompted defense analyst Loren Thompson to tell reporters: "The Army is
coming to the end of its rope in Iraq. It simply does not have enough 
active-duty military personnel to sustain the current level of effort."

There are currently over 142,000 US soldiers in Iraq. Just last week General 
John Abizaid, the top US commander in the region, said the military is likely to
maintain and possibly even increase its force level in Iraq through next spring.

What does this look like for US troops on the ground in Iraq? Here is an email I
received just last week from a mother whose son is serving in the US military in

/My son cannot bear what he is forced to do, and has probably through sheer 
terror, confusion, and split-second decisions, killed innocent civilians. He is 
well aware of this, and I have witnessed the consequences first hand. He 
probably carries innocent blood on his hands. The killing of innocent people is 
virtually unavoidable. He is in Al-Anbar region. You are the ONLY person in the 
media who has responded to my emails. The other emails I sent to news 
organizations questioning why so little news out of Al-Anbar were unanswered. I 
believe that it is because the US has lost that region, and is suppressing that 
news to the American public. My son called me last week from Ramadi and said the
war is lost - they are just going thru the motions, again, forced to carry out 
orders and risk their lives for an unobtainable and unjust goal. I continue to 
read your web site, as well as others, while I pray for my son's safe homecoming
in spring./

Her anguish, the description of her son's mental state, and her son's report of 
the conditions in Ramadi, tragic as they are, come as no surprise. At the time 
of this writing, over 2,703 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and over ten 
times that number wounded. This month, over 61 American soldiers have been 
killed in Iraq. With an average of over 2.5 killed daily this month, at the time
of this writing it's already the third bloodiest month this year in Iraq for 
occupation forces.

Another report released last weekend from the Veterans Health Administration 
found that over one third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking medical 
treatment are reporting symptoms of stress or other metal disorders. This is a 
tenfold increase in the last 18 months alone. The dramatic jump in cases is 
attributed to the fact that more troops are facing multiple tours in Iraq and 

This is of course complicated by the fact that veterans' groups claim that the 
VA is not able to meet the growing demand for services. Already, veterans have 
had to deal with long waits for doctor appointments (oftentimes over six 
months), staffing shortages, and lack of equipment at medical centers run by the

The woman who sent me the email about her son gave me permission to publish 
another email that shows clearly how the over-stretch of the military in Iraq 
and multiple tours are affecting her son:

/ I have established contact with my son, thank God, and he writes to me daily 
about Iraqi atrocities, and how he wants to wax them all. His morale is low and 
he has a weak LT who is unable to keep up with the pace required. I would love 
to share these emails with you, but I am afraid. I'm afraid of the implications 
should this ever get out. I want to do nothing to endanger my communications 
with my son. My impression through my readings and contact with soldiers is that
the Iraqis are generally good people. The American occupation seems to be only 
making things that much worse for the average Iraqi. My impression is that Iraq 
is a country with no hope. No matter what is done, they will never have a stable
government, no matter what form it might take. From my son, I'm able to glean 
the complete CHAOS Ramadi is in. It is hopeless. As a mother, I want him to do 
whatever is necessary to come home, and will not sugar-coat my thoughts: that he
should kill everything and come home. Naturally, not someone who is obviously an
innocent civilian, but how do you tell? How do you know who is innocent and who 
is a threat? Therefore, he feels that daisy-cutting the town is the only option.
Of course this will not happen, and he's blowing smoke. However, it is an 
indication of how bad things are there ... the struggle between the Marines and 
the insurgents is never ending. The type of bomb now employed by the insurgents 
(whoever they are) is frightening ... a metal plate on the ground: when the 
Marine steps on it, it connects the circuit and that boy is blown up. My son is 
running missions thru back alleys ... and is hauling a machine gun that is 
destroying his back. He is a slender young man, and the gear he is carrying is 
affecting his health. He can run for miles, but not with a hundred pounds on 
him. Already I hear such a hardness in his emails, such low morale, such 
hopelessness, and he has only just begun this deployment (hopefully his last ...
his third)./

/ America is a great nation, compassionate to many, and is my homeland. I am 
sickened at what is happening, and what my son is being made to do as a Marine. 
Ultimately we have morphed into an empire. It breaks my heart that my son may 
die on foreign soil fighting a useless war that will only lead to more death and
destruction .../

The longer the occupation of Iraq continues, more death and destruction are two 
things all of us can count on. Along with a broken, bleeding military that is 
being stretched even further each day, and the anxious families of those 
serving, whose nerves and hearts are also being stretched further each day.

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.

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