Thursday, March 02, 2006

Our War President

I just learned that someone I know who is in the Ohio National Guard will be getting his orders for another tour of active duty -- his third, I believe, the last being in Bosnia. This time he goes to Iraq where, in his specific job, he will be exposed on a daily basis to RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), which are, by and large, the weapons that are killing civilians and American forces in Iraq.

In doing this, Bush is violating a long time policy of the Department of Defense (i. e., War) not to call up National Guard units for more than one out of every five years. At some point during the Iraq war, this policy was changed to two out of every five years. There are a variety of reasons for this, the biggest two being force reductions after the end of the Cold War and a need for many more troops in Iraq than Rumsfield and Bush had thought they could get away with thanks to their total failure to understand what they were getting us and them into (recall the looting, the inability of the US led forces to protect the people and rebuild and protect the infrastructure, the totally unexpected insurgency, etc.)

What is interesting is how the Department of Defense (i. e., War) interprets the "2 out of 5 year" active duty limitation. I give you the words of Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn:

What a lot of folks don't really pay attention to is that we regenerate a certain percentage of our force every year; you know, those new recruits and folks that come in from the (other ) service and so on, and that's about 18 percent across the line. So when you start to look at that in broad terms, and if it were flat-lined over five years, you'd say, well, 90 percent of your Soldiers are almost all new in five years. That's true. So, you see, once every five years, we come real close to regenerating the whole force anyway. What ends up staying in your force over that period of time are the people that want to stay there, which are your leaders, which is the way it ought to be.

It is clear that no individual soldier is being given a "2 of 5" year limitation on active duty service. Rather, the DOD is using a statistical interpretation of that limitation. If there is a turnover of 90 percent of a given National Guard unit over five years, then, indeed, it can be called up every other year for five years and not exceed the limitation. After year one, 5/5ths will have served one tour but 1/5th will leave the Guard. After year two, spent back in the USA, the unit will lose an additional 1/5th. So, when it is recalled in year 3, only 3/5ths of the original group will still be in the Guard unit. After year 4, also spent in the USA, the unit will lose an additional 1/5th of its original size, leaving just 1/5th of the original group. When this unit is deployed in the fifth year, the only group that will be on its third tour will be the 1/5th that was there in the first year. And these, says the Good General, would be "the people that want to stay there, which are your leaders." He didn't say "officers," he said "leaders." The leaders will, of course, be the most experienced people. Unless they are total screw ups, they will all be in leadership positions of some sort. They are what college sports coaches call the "senior leadership" of their teams.

Now, the General isn't saying literally that he knows this "turnover" is going to happen in the way I have just described. He makes no such claim. He only provides a interpretation of the "2 of 5" year limitation that "sounds good." That Bush and the DOD are engaged in lying to Guard members, the parents, spouses, children, and you and me is clear enough. However, it is my understanding that when this Ohio unit is called up, it will be called up for a minimum of one year. Not a maximum. A minimum. So, the lie grows like Pinocchio's nose.

One other aspect of this that is disturbing is that Bush seems to have promised that only "volunteers" are going to be sent to Iraq. I have found no document confirming this promise. However, it is not the individual soldier who will be doing the volunteering. It is the Generals who lead them. Tell me a National Guard General who would not volunteer his troops and I'll tell you a National Guard General who doesn't want a promotion. Perhaps someone can confirm or disconfirm this alleged promise. Bush is guilty of so many errors of judgement and outright lies that we don't want to be accused of piling on by adding another lie if it isn't a "true lie."

Let me note in passing that General Vaughn should be given the 2006 George Orwell Language Award for his use of the verb "socialize." I give you
That had been socialized with the TAGs
we socialized and worked with the states
What in living hell does this verb mean to this man? That they had had tea parties with the TAGs and the states?

What really chaps my butt is that Bush and Cheney, both of whom dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, continue to send Americans to Iraq to die in a monumentally stupid war. The irony in this context is that Bush dodged the draft by getting Daddy's help securing enlistment into the National Guard at a time when virtually no Guard members ever served in combat and enlistments were essentially frozen. In 1956, after the Korean War, the military made a terrible blunder by allowing people to enlist for an 8 year National Guard term with no active duty requirement -- not even basic training. Being naive, I, as a high school senior, was conned by a friend into joining the Oklahoma National Guard to make sure that I didn't get drafted out of college. Dumb me. White, middle-class, college-enrolled people did not get drafted in those days. But be clear about this: I was engaging in draft dodging. The difference between Bush and me is that I used the National Guard draft-dodging ploy during a time of peace, not war.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly his honor dicky,i shot the lawyer, chaney used the perfectly good excuse for dodging the draft,I had better things to do.


10:27 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

That's almost exactly what he said. Everyone who needs a refresher course on the turmoil of the late '60's or who is too young to have lived through it, I strongly suggest you read, They Marched Into Sunlight : War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967" by David Maraniss. It focuses on a very brave battalian of American soldiers and the anti-war protesters in what was a critical two days in October, 1967. Thanks to lousy intelligence and bad leadership by those not on the ground, the battalian was caught in a brutally effective trap by the N. Vietnamese. Meanwhile, the first (I believe) major university protest with marches, sit-ins, and the rest occurred at the U. of Wisconsin. It made me angry all over again about the stupidity of the Johnson administration.

11:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we look back on all the wonderful republicans we have in office now or were in office we see a large number of them are pro war NOW but were not so pro war when they were of draft age.Here in Texas we had the honorable Phil Graham who when it became his time to serve in the army got another college deferment and told the draft board that it was more important for him to teach than to fight.I believe his name was Jack Kempt who ran for president along with George the I,he did not get the nomination,was given a draft deferment because his shoulder was in bad shape but he could throw a football fifty yards.Go figure.Now this guy is not an office holder but is a mouthpiece for the white house and the republican party,Rush Limbaugh was granted a draft deferment for what amounted to an ingrown hair on his butt.The list goes on and on.I have heard the talking heads on the radio talk about how many parents are telling thier kids not to join the military and they are not pleased.I don't hear them saying how they are trying to get thier kids to join the military.


12:00 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Jake, was your "I shot the lawyer" a reference back to "I shot the sheriff" of Bob Marley fame?

4:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

first of all, i'd like to say that the so-called insurgency in iraq should have been about as unexpected as katrina leveling new orleans.

second, i have a real problem with the word insurgency. basically it just means rebellion but all dictionaries i have checked except for one include the phrase "against a constituted government" or something to the effect of indicating the government is recognized and legitimate. in the news i have found that since the beginning they have always given the impression, as well, that this insurgency is being perpetrated by foreigners sneaking across the border from syria which i always thought was ridiculous. i think the impression the media meant to give was just that the rebels were not iraqi because they of course were all for the american occupation. again ridiculous.

if someone invaded my country and proceeded to occupy it and then dictated which government my people were supposed to have im pretty sure that i would be mighty pissed off. i think any american would be equally pissed off regardless of the benevolent military force that decided to save their asses from all the ills of the american system.

lastly, i live in korea and there are quite a few american military around that like to get drunk and run their mouths about what is going on in the forces. one lifer that i had a conversation with was telling about how he was going to be stationed in iraq for his next assignment and was getting paid some absurd bonus like $20 000 for doing so. he explained that the military is extremely desperate for troops and are doing everything they can to offer incentives for people to join and stay in the armed forces.

one last thing is that just because the invading force says the war is over doesnt mean the other side has to listen.

5:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i tried to make a comment before but something was wrong with the server. it was kind of long so i just made it a post on my own blog here

insurgency is a stupid, manipulative word.

7:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i see now that my comment has magically appeared . . . so you can just delete this and the previous one, please and thank you.

7:42 PM

Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

...recall the looting, the inability of the US ... to protect the people and rebuild and protect the infrastructure, ...

There for a minute I thought you were talking about New Orleans....

2:15 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

idabairon, methinks you have spotted a trend in Republican government.

8:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, where does one start dispelling such myths that are being disseminated here. I guess there is no place like the beginning.

The term volunteer I believe LG is referring to is the "all volunteer" Forces that we now rely on for our armed forces. Yes, no conscripts are being sent to war as they were during Vietnam. I was part of the first all volunteer armed forces just after Vietnam. Gerald Ford, the first and only unelected president was my first commander in chief. Then James Carter became president and the downward spiral of the US military forces continued and if there was any semblance of leadership then it was lost and pride in our uniforms and units were at an all time low. I watched the Soviets build their strength and become an actual “Blue Water” Navy as Jimmy Carter made a determined effort to emasculate the United States military. It was a shameful time indeed.

It wasn't until my third Commander in Chief Ronald Wilson Reagan that things began to turn around. It truly was “Morning in America” for the US military when Reagan took the reins of power from Carter. I was in the Middle East at the time that the Embassy in Tehran was overrun. I watched as our troops were called in to make a rescue attempt but were made to look like fools because there had been no effort made to train or equip our troops to conduct such missions. I can go on but the point is that even though Jimmy Carter had been a military officer he was as useless as teats on a bull when it comes to being a Commander in Chief. Ronald Reagan on the other hand was a movie star and a Governor of California but he understood it took motivation and pride in their job and country to build an effective military.

During my time in the US Naval reserves, I was paid by the US government to train people and to be ready for war. I was also expected to go to war if called and I understood this every time I cashed that check. The troops we are now fielding now understand the same thing. They are being paid to fight wars in behalf of their country and if they do not like that then they do not have to reenlist or volunteer after their hitch is done. This being said, the reenlistment rate is very high for an all volunteer force. Many young Marines I have talked with agree that we must finish the job we started but that we should have a sufficient force to do so. This is a gripe that I have with Donald Rumsfeld and the man reminds me of William McNamara in that he thinks his plans of using a limited force will work. It won’t and military history bears me out on this but he knows better than history itself I guess just like McNamara did.

The so-called insurgents are made up of variety combatants. There are the left over Saddam Hussein Bathe party loyalists, there are outside Al Qaeda fighters and Sunni Iraqis that hate the Shiite majority. Yes, these fighters are guerrilla type warriors and they are very difficult to fight because of the non conventional tactics they use. An overwhelming and controlling force that originally defeated the Iraqi army was needed to keep the peace and to minimize these fighters but that force was reduced to show other Muslim nations in the region that we not there to colonialize Iraq as had been done in the previous century. That was a bad idea and now we are paying for our weakness with the daily news stories of IED’s exploding and killing civilians and military personnel alike. When will our leaders just pick up a history book and read it. Every time this sort of appeasement has been employed it has failed. If you plan to take over a country and win then do it with strength to overcome and to hold your position. I’m only an enlisted person so what genius strategist is going listen to me?

8:51 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

I've never payed much attention to wars. (I was too young during the Vietnam war). & have always made an effort to give the 'Powers that be' the benifit of the doubt.

As I get older I'm becoming more cynical, tho. Clinton helped me see that Presidents are just as low as the rest of us. & G. Bush is helping me to realize what 'Politics' is all about.

This quote by Karl Kraus, seems pertinent at the moment:
"How is the world ruled & how do wars start?
Diplomats tell lies to journalists & then believe what they read."

10:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After listening to and reading the many reports about this war. One thing is abundantly clear; this war is like every war that has ever been fought, the truth was and still is the first casualty. Pick anyone that has a stake in this war and I guarantee they are lying about some aspect of it.

10:21 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

Yes, j_g, that is true & it never changes. & that is what mades it so sad.

12:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Herbert Walker Bush federalized National Guard units for training exercises in Guatemala 1988. There was a pitched battle between the States and the Feds to stop this use of National Guard Units to supplement frontline combat units for training exercises. Then on 20Dec89 Panama was invaded for “Operation Just Cause” Four Navy Seals were killed and eight seriously wounded during the attack on Patilla airfield to disable General Manuel Noriega’s Lear jet. Poor planning and misdirected mission assignments were the cause for those casualties.

George W Bush should have nationalized the Louisiana National Guard during Hurricane Katrina to break the obvious paralysis and ineptness of the local and State governments to adhere to the evacuation plan. That ineptness contributed heavily to so much loss of life and property damage from flooding and looting. The Louisiana National Guard were on standby waiting for orders from the Governor and if Bush had Nationalized them to bypass the ineptitude of Governor Blanco that would have broken protocol but it would have saved many lives. Bush messed up again.

5:55 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

J_G, I very much respect your service to the country but the fact remains that nothing I said in my blog was impacted by your claims for I was mostly talking about how the military is interpreting the idea that someone should be called up for only 2 one year tours in 5 years. The statistical interpretation the general gave is the sort of thing that verifies the appropriateness of the title of the book: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. There are a bunch of books with titles similar to that.

The fact is that being an Active member of the Armed Forces is different from being a memeber of the Reserves and both are different from the National Guard. The expectation for the Guard is that it is used for local emergencies (a riot, Katrina, etc.) and can be mobilized by the Governor and by the President (with the approval of the Governor being required, I think). The idea of the Guard is that it should be used for combat in extreme cases. What is changing is the understanding of "extreme cases" and it is changing because Bush wants a small military and tax cuts. He can't have an a large enough active duty military to take care of his wars and tax cuts without making his deficits larger.

What is evolving is the idea that both the Reserves and the Guard should be easily integratable with the active forces should need for either be required. That's a very good idea in principle. The point of the Guard has always been that these are citizen soldiers who have jobs/careers in the "real world" and who are called up, as noted, in extreme cases. However, right now, Bush is treating the National Guard as if it were a part of our Active Duty forces no different in principle from active duty forces sitting "idle" on bases in the US. That is just wrong and it will destroy the National Guard if he persists. No one will enlist if he/she knows he/she cannot have a career in the "real world" so long as he/she is a part of the Guard.

8:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, LG, I got off on a tangent there because I have no love for Bush I. The same arguments you are using now were used to try and keep National Guard forces from being activated and used in Guatemala 1988 to bring "medical" and "engineering" services to the rural parts of that country. It was just a ruse anyway, they were trying to find communist organizations that were causing problems for President Vinicio Cerezo and to find drug smuggling operations that were funding the communists. Bush I established that policy and if I remember correctly C. Boyden Gray argued the case before the US Supreme court. Bush I, Clinton I and Bush II used those policies to supplement the reserves with National Guard units and will continue to use the policy until an executive order changes the policy. The rotation numbers are just a game to please members of Congress and the Governors.

I get angry every time I discuss Bush I because of the Panama deal. Those Navy Seals were killed because of the stupidity of the planning. I hold Bush I directly responsible for that stupidity because it was an unnecessary operation that was poorly planned and executed. They could of snatched Noriega without all the fireworks. I have deep ties with the Navy and the misuse of troops to me is unforgivable.

I’m kind of angry over the same type of stupidity that Rumsfeld is displaying by not having enough troops to get the job done. National Guard troops have always been under Federal control one way or another but to use them in the measure that they are being used now is becoming negligent at best. From what I’m hearing, top commanders in the field are expressing the same thoughts.

Cheney and Rumsfeld differ over this very same argument about getting the job done with an overwhelming force and getting the heck out of there rather than using a smaller force because of political concerns that is more vulnerable to all the attacks we are now seeing. I don’t have a problem with using the National Guard but “dog gone it” get them in there, get the job done and get the hell out of there! Bush II decided on the military option and that’s what he is stuck with once you choose it. Now use basic military principles and do the JOB!!!!!!!!!

7:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The States that objected to sending NG units for training outside the US were Kentucky, Arizona, Arkansas and Wisconsin. The Operation they were intended to support was called "New Horizons". National Guard units were to provide medical support and engineer training to the civilians in Guatemala during the operation. The States objected to training outside of the US but has no objection to training with the regular units inside the US.

National Guard units used to be referred to as Militias. Once they became part of the US Army they no longer qualify to be referred to as Militias. In the late 1980’s this whole issue of nationalizing the National Guard to train in foreign countries started what is known as the “Militia Movement”. Concerned citizens heard those speeches that George Bush gave about a “New World Order” and they took it to mean a one world government. Back at that time, there was no faster way to get the ire of former service people up then to talk about surrendering our sovereignty to a “World Government”. Maybe I should write a book on this subject LG because I was right in the middle of all that. You certainly opened a can worms on this subject for me.

Anyway, Bush I took on a few states at a time about this breech of protocol for the National Guard and forced their hand with the standard tools of refusing funding for important projects and other political pressures such as campaign funding monies. It never made it to the Supreme Court as I first thought. It was handled at the political level and the case I thinking about was something else. Bush I was a pretty crafty individual, he came off as this grandfatherly type but he was cunning and skilled after being the ambassador to the most repressive communist government the world has ever known, China and also from being “Mr. Big” at the CIA.

The states lost their control over their own National Guard units back during the Bush I administration and they should have stood together instead of falling separately. I suppose I must be bloviating again in order to make my point.

8:56 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Very interesting stuff, J_G. Somehow, it passed me by that Big Bush did this national power grab. I suspect you must be right about this action causing certain patriotic sorts to go ballistic and form the militias. I need to blog on the idea any political entity -- city, state, country, the UN -- is strongly subject to the Law of Unintended Consequences. Bush's failure to anticipate this consequence is a flaw but the ability of the military to integrate the Guard fully into the active army functionally is a very good one. However, individuals in the Guard have to be assured as to the limits of their active service not counting a World War or Korean War sort of thing. Certainly our war of aggression against Iraq doesn't count.

The effects of The Law of Unintended Consquences has destroyed his son's Presidency. I see no way he can recover from the Iraq debacle, the failure to totally eliminate the Talliban, and our run away deficit.

11:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we'll have to see what comes out of this over there. Somehow I just don't have the mistrust of Bush II that I do of Bush I. I don’t know how one can separate them though. Maybe I've mellowed out over the years and gone soft.

I did hand in my John Birch Society membership card after I kept waking up at night wondering if those helicopters flying over my house was the New World Order coming to take me out.

Some of that stuff is real though but sorting out the BS from reality is time consuming and speeds the aging process tremendously. I haven’t given up keeping an eye on these guys but I’m just not as intense about it. I vote in every election too and that makes feel as though I’m doing something.

12:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the study they have started to examine this very topic.
The Commission on the National Guard and Reserves

12:56 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

J_G. thanks for the heads up on this. Clearly, they have to make a large distinction between the active reserves and the guard or the guard will cease to exist. Right now, they aren't distinguishable I fear. Anyone is fodder for Bush's war machine. Except for the draft dodger himself.

Did anyone in the Bush Administration fight in Vietnam or the first Iraq War. Obviously Powell but he hardly counts. He was never really a Bush guy -- just someone Bush wanted to exploit. And when the Prez calls one answers, or so the legend goes.

3:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bush Administration

These are the Presidents people. I don't have a clue about their Military service background. I do know Dick Cheney was the Secretary of Defense under Bush I.

Donald Rumsfeld was the Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford. Mr. Rumsfeld attended Princeton University on academic and NROTC scholarships (A.B., 1954) and served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. In 1957, he transferred to the Ready Reserve and continued his naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. He transferred to the Standby Reserve when he became Secretary of Defense in 1975 and to the Retired Reserve with the rank of Captain in 1989.

Everyone else is a mystery to me except Condi. I like Condi a lot because of what she has overcome and accomplished as a Woman and an American.

9:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ran across this site by accident, I am a National Guard soldier who is currently on active duty and have completed one tour in Iraq and realize I will be returning next year.

It amazes me how short sited some of the folks here are. Who cares why anyone joined the service. These people drew their pay during peacetime and now we are at war. It is time to "pay the piper".

Grow a set of gonads and do your duty and stop crying! It is embarassing for those of us who are not cowards to listen to it.


11:14 AM


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