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by Paul Heller
Sunday, Jun. 01, 2003 at 10:33 AM
What's another broken promise from the GOP to the men and women of the armed forces?
What's a soldier supposed to say, other than, "Thank you, sir"? Our troops have just received word from the top brass that they won't be going home as they assumed they would. Having made the long haul from Kuwait City to Baghdad, having stubbed out the Iraqi armed forces like an officer's cigar, and having suffered through this much of the lawless "occupation" of the Iraqi people, our young men and women probably figured that their Commander in Chief was a man of his word.
Oops. The Pentagon now says that the Army's 3rd Infantry will have to stay in Baghdad to maintain security for a while longer. Over 200,000 Americans have been stationed in the Persian Gulf for a long time now, many since before Christmas, and with the dirty work done, they all would like what was promised to them. They fulfilled their end of the bargain - Vini, Vidi, Vici - and they want to go home.
Specifically, they want out of the desert. It's getting pretty hot over there now; Kuwait City is 108 degrees today, and Baghdad is a balmy 99 degrees. Being in Phoenix, I can relate to that kind of heat. It forces us all to stay inside of our air-conditioned homes, our air-conditioned cars and our air-conditioned places of employment. But for some reason, the thermostats aren't working all that well in Iraq right now. And when the military talks about "hot spots", it doesn't have anything to do with the weather.
The Pentagon hopes that the troops' sagging morale will be bolstered with "new missions", which really means going out on ambush in the kinds of places where Iraqi resistance yet persists. Four Americans have been killed by hostile fire in Iraq over the last week (a like number has been killed by accidents as well), so attention must be paid to those areas where it exists. While it is questionable as to whether or not such bug-hunts will have a positive effect on their spirits, such operations will definitely keep them from getting bored.
We've lost only a few hundred troops so far, but that's not really the point. Our people just want to come home. That's the home-court advantage that any invaded country holds, no matter how well things seem to be going from our vantage. And our people believed they were about to be sent home. But it turns out that there aren't really that many troops available to take their places; you knew that by the number of reservists that got called up in the first place. Short of reinstating the draft, there isn't much the powers that be can do about this dilemma.
So, if you have a loved one in the service, and were hoping to see him or her anytime soon, you'll just have to be disappointed. Very important work being done over there, you understand. Oil fields to secure, stuff like that. Even without any substantial weapons of mass destruction to hang their helmets on, they've got to be there. They don't like it, and you don't like it, but Bush likes it.
And in case you haven't figured it out yet, that's all that matters anymore.
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