Mar 29, 2004
As many as 40% of the 120,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are National Guard and Army Reserve units. Reports are beginning to surface about serious medical conditions ignored so more live bodies could be funneled into Iraq and Afghanistan.
Knight Ridder newspapers quoted a first sergeant from a reserve unit who reported, "Medical profiles were ignored. It wasn't about healthy troops. It was about the number of troops."
Bush has set June 30 as the date he will begin bringing troops home just in time for the election and to quiet down opposition to the war. But in order to bring some troops home, the Armed Forces have to find other troops to send over there.
This problem of numbers is made worse by the worsening situation in Afghanistan. Ten thousand regular troops, plus an undisclosed number of Special Forces shifted from Iraq, are there, but are not enough to keep the central Afghan government together. Bush's generals want more troops in Afghanistan, more troops in Iraq, but Bush needs enough troops to rotate home to try to impress voters.
So fifty-year-olds with diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic back problems are being sent to Iraq.
The troops are told they are being sent to risk their lives fighting terrorism. But it's not terrorism that's forcing a wider and wider call-up of the National Guard and Reserves. The troops are sent by a government bent on controlling a region rich with oil. To the government, those troops are as expendable as the peoples whose lands they are sent to occupy.