24 October 2004

Soldiers follow Shrub's example

Pesky' Apostrophe reported the following news:

Speaking of soldiers, there’s a report out today that more than one third of former soldiers in the Ready Reserves recalled to active duty recently have failed to report to duty. 4,166 former soldiers have been called so far. 1,671 in the Ready Reserves have requested delays or exemptions. 843 have neither reported nor asked for a delay or exemption. Looks like the military had better get busy recruiting. After all, with the military action in Iraq and the need for increased troop pressure, the military action in Afghanistan and the increased violence there, and all the preemptive strikes we would have to make should there be another four years of Bush, well, let’s just say it seems like the military would come up short for its needs.

One aspect of the current administration's heavy reliance on Guard and Reserve soldiers that is often ignored by the media is the heavy costs shouldered by businesses, which are required to keep the soldier's job open until they return. These businesses must therefore hire and train temp workers only to let them go later. In many cases, the reserve soldiers run businesses themselves. Needless to say, most businesses can't maintain operations if the person disappears for a year and a half or longer (while many deployments are technically one-year long, the training prior to deployment often takes 3 to 6 months.) The refusal to report to duty probably reflects many soldiers' frustration with the Shrub administrations use of reserves for policing operations instead of for a major crisis (I don't see how pre-emptive attacks can count as a major crisis).

My advice to anyone thinking of joining the military would be to ignore the enlistment period. If you sign on the dotted line, you'll be in the military indefinitely as the government extends your enlistment with an assortment of stop-loss provisions and other nonsense. Many of the people getting extended on stoploss are technically in for another 30 years, or until their stop-loss is rescinded. Even after you think you're out and placed in the so-called "Inactive Reserves," you stand a very good change of being called up. The only way you're going to serve only your original enlistment period in the current climate is to declare yourself a CO (in which case you might get out or might end up in prison) or follow Bush's example and simply not report to duty. (I wonder if the National Guard and Reserve units will be as understanding with these soldiers as they were with Bush.)

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