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September 27, 2004


Anybody remember Bush's accusation during the 2000 campaign that two Army divisions weren't ready for duty? That our last democratically-elected President had rendered the armed services a "hollow military?"

He was wrong then. But if he could make the charge today. In fact, three divisions probably aren't available.

The Iraq Quagmire has pretty well exhausted not just the Army but the USMC. Troop rotations are a mess and the fact is we're sending troops into a combat zone without adequate training. That--not calling Allawi a 'puppet'--leads to demoralization and low morale.

As Hilzoy, via Carter, notes--we are now looking at a gutting of the reserves in terms of overall numbers and, more importantly, experience. I will bet anyone this problem alone will take two decades to repair.

Let's not forget the ME isn't the only hot spot in the world. Far more serious problems have been allowed to fester elsewhere; NK is obvious, China likes what it sees and knows the envelope just got a bit larger, Indonesia, the various ex-Soviet republics.

Once more, Bush has created a problem for which the solutions are undesirable: heavy outlays of cash and a probable return to the draft.

In fairness, and I think the article makes this point, the Pentagon has been trying to shorten the length of the logistics tail and increase the percentage of combat brigades.

This is the same military that, even as we speak, is doing what it can to prevent soldiers from learning what there options are in voting against the Bush administration?
Boo hoo, cry me a freaking river.
The military has no right, five years from now to whine how "the government" hurt it, as though this was some undeserved bolt from the blue. It's called karma, guys; get used to it.

Maynard -- not sure exactly which thing you're talking about, but some of the more troubling military-and-voting moves are being done by the Defense Department, not by the military proper. Which is to say: by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al, not by the soldiers who will be trying to undo the consequences of Iraq for the military for years.

I am referring to this sort of thing:

[Washington | Reuters News Service, 22 September 2004] - Some Americans overseas are being denied access to a Pentagon-run Web site intended to make it easier for them to vote by absentee ballot due to security measures to thwart hackers, the Pentagon said yesterday.

The Federal Voting Assistance Programme's Web site offers US military personnel and American civilians living abroad information about voting by absentee ballot in the 2 November election, with links to state election sites.

But security steps put in place to halt hackers have instead blocked an unknown number of Americans overseas from accessing the site,, said Lt Col Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokesperson.


Of course there's the usual blather about "we don't care who you vote for as long as the regulations are followed"; just like in Florida "we don't care who you vote for as long as you aren't on the felons list (which strangely happens to consist mostly of blacks who'd vote democrat, but not latinos who might vote republican)" or in Ohio where it is "we don't care who you vote for as long as you registered to vote using paper of the appropriate thickness (which, strangely, just happens to hurt recent Democratic GOTV initiatives)".

More evidence of problems, via Kos: USA Today reports that "Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to threaten some with punishment for desertion.

The former soldiers, part of what is known as the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), are being recalled to fill shortages in skills needed for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Maynard, First off, that block was lifted nearly a week ago, and even when it was in place, it only affected some people using civilian ISPs, like China Telecom. The military also provides Voting Assistance Officers, as well as making sure troops get advised of the procedures needed to cast absentee votes. Doesn't keep disorganized election boards from mishandling the absentee votes, but any measures to fix that problem would run afoul of the "posse comitatus" statutes. :)

Hilzoy, as far as the IRR callup goes, please note that of the 1,662 reservists ordered to report, approximately 1,538 of them have either showed up or requested exemption. Given that the records for keeping track of IRR reservists consist of basically just checking to see if they left a forwarding address with the Post Office, that's pretty solid. They never expected to get all of those IRR callups back, so they deliberately asked for more than they needed.

Does this mean there aren't problems? No, by no means. We need to make sure that the Army is authorized to go to a larger troop strength, and if that means a few more folks get waivers for things that would have disqualified them in years past (like having a GED), then we can live with it. The DoD is having to jump through hoops becuase Congress isn't getting the job done with the Military Authorization Act and the Military Appropriations Act. (Yes, you can blame the Republicans for this, and keep a clean conscience. It's a fair cop.)

Here is an article that gives a more thorough look at the issue, and tries to deflate some of the hysteria. Check it out -- I think it'll reassure you somewhat.

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