The Army's recent call-up of 5,600 soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve – former active duty soldiers now in reserve status and subject to recall – further emphasizes the demands the Bush administration's poor planning has placed on our nation's most important resource – our troops. These soldiers, who have already completed their active duty enlistment but are within eight years of when they entered the military, must now leave their jobs and families behind and mobilize for active duty. The Center for American Progress has assembled a selection of editorials from newspapers around the country exploring this issue.
Walnut Creek, Calif. – Contra Costa Times
July 6, 2004
"The call up last week of the about 6,000 Individual Ready Reserve, men and women who served their active duty but still haven't fulfilled their six-year military obligation, is just the latest indication that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's plan to turn the U.S. military into a lean, mean fighting machine is hitting a few road bumps.
"America's military commitments across the globe have spread U.S. armed forces too thinly, forcing us to rethink the size of today's military.
"As we learn to fight a new kind of war – against small cells and rogue groups – our needed military build up also must be accompanied by an increased effort on the diplomatic front. Sending our uniformed men and women to war is – as it should be – the last resort."
West Palm Beach, Fla. – Palm Beach Post
July 6, 2004
"The Pentagon had planned to be withdrawing troops from Iraq by now. In that, as in so many ways, the Pentagon planned badly.
"Veterans in the Individual Ready Reserve, many of whom will be called up from Florida, will be hardest hit. Most of them already served four to six years on active duty. They left the Army with honorable discharges and no intention or expectation of returning. Unlike active reserve troops, they did not receive pay or training in anticipation of being called up. The Pentagon can force them back because joining the military carries an eight-year obligation.
"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld billed himself as a reformer and forward-thinker who would revamp and revitalize the military. But everything from the de-facto draft to the troop drawdown in South Korea is driven by terrible planning for the war in Iraq. The soldiers – more and more of them – are performing. The Bush administration isn't."
Greenville, S.C. – The Greenville News
July 5, 2004
"The Army recently instituted a stop-loss policy that has prevented thousands of troops from leaving the service, redeployed 3,500 troops in South Korea to Iraq and extended the tours of duty of troops serving in Iraq. So last week's news that the Army was pulling 5,600 soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve smacks of more of the same – a short-term fix.
"The Pentagon's rationale for calling these reservists is sound. They are experienced and they can quickly fill in. But this represents more lives interrupted when it's becoming increasingly clear that the Army is incapable of fighting in multiple theaters without significant stress.
"After soldiers have completed their enlistments or tours of duty, most expect relief. When they don't get it, morale suffers. That affects both recruiting and retention, critical areas where the Army must shine in order to keep its numbers adequate and growing."
Bangor, Maine – Bangor Daily News
July 5, 2004
"Those summoned will have 30 days to arrange personal matters before reporting to a mobilization site. Those found qualified for deployment will get testing and training in weapons handling and such matters as how to recognize an improvised bomb and how to react to an ambush. The orders call for at least 18 months and possibly two years of active duty.
"The Bush administration underestimated what it would take to conquer and pacify Iraq. And it is still feeling the impact among the allies of its disregard for international treaties and its initial reluctance to involve the United Nations in Iraq."