Surprise, Washington Lies To The Troops ... Again!

by James Glaser
July 16,2003

In a column by Russ Bynum, of the Associated Press on Monday, July 14th, we find that the report of Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger, was not the only falsehood we will have to endure about what is going on in Iraq. Now Washington is playing with the hearts and minds of our men and women in uniform. The let down these troops have after hearing another lie about the time of their homecoming is as hard on their families, as it is on those that fight for our country.

Some of the 16,500 members of the US Army 3rd Infantry Division, which were the spear head force in the assault on Baghdad, have been in the Middle East since last September. In historical military terms that is not a long deployment, but in the heat of the desert and with horror of combat, these troops are more than ready to return to their loved ones.

Last week Major General Buford C. Blount III, the 3rd Infantry commander told the troops and those waiting at home, he hoped the division's 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams, about 9,000 soldiers could be home within the next six weeks.

These are the words that the wives, children and parents of these young Americans have been waiting for. I'm sure that the cries of "Daddys coming home" were heard all over Fort Stewart, the home of the 3rd.

Wouldn't you know it, because of no planning for post war Iraq and no schedule of troop rotation, those troops, plus those in the 7th Cavalry Regiment, have had their homecoming postponed indefinitely.

"Due to the uncertainty of the situation in Iraq and the recent increase in attacks on coalition forces," were the words General Blount used to tell the wives of the troops, their husbands were not coming home. These words in a e-mail sent to the spouses of the troops.

In a copy of that e-mail obtained by the Associated Press, Blount wrote, "I wish I could tell you how long...but everything I have told you before has changed." That e-mail was devastating for the families waiting at home, when their hopes were so high.

"Don't do that to us. Don't pull on our heartstrings that way," said Julie Galloway, whose husband, Sergeant Michael Galloway was deployed last November.

This is the second time the families of these troops have been let down by Washington. When President Bush told the Nation that fighting was over on May 1st, many of the families were told to prepare for homecomings in June.

The increased stress on these troops after being told they will go home and then told no, time after time, cannot be measured. There are reports of eighteen men a day seeking help from their mental health units, which tells us that these men no longer care about psychological problems going on their service record. This tells us that these men and women have reached the limit of their ability to continue on in Iraq. Psychological problems can stop a military career in its tracks and these troops know that, but feel their need for help is of greater importance.

"Every time a soldier is shot and killed it comes to mind - is that my husband?" said Tasha Moore, whose husband Captain Daniel Moore was deployed in February. "I don't think the government understands what a husband or wife or children are going through every day."

Just like those troops needing help with their stress, the same is true for the families at home. Now that America has a all volunteer military that is touted as "professional" it is more important than ever for those in the Department of Defense to treat our troops with the respect they deserve.

On again, off again homecomings are not the way to treat those men and women willing to give their lives to protecting our country. If those in charge in Washington want to keep these people in our military service, they will have to start acting more professional themselves. That calls for planning on the part of the White House and those at the Pentagon. Months after President Bush declared, "Mission Accomplished," there is still no exit strategy to bring our troops home. We know that, the troops know that, and now the families of our troops know that too.

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