Would somebody shut up those uppity wounded soldiers?

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Via Atrios comes this Nitpicker post:

Problems all taken care of at Walter Reed

The problem, of course, being those loud-mouthed wounded.

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,” one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.

Nice to see that they’re taking care of the troops.

If you know what I mean…

For the background on this story, click here.

Afghanistan and Iraq: The Plans

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From Kevin Drum:

Remember all that talk about how Iraq had no impact on Afghanistan and the search for al-Qaeda? Not true. At CENTCOM, anyway, winding down the effort in Afghanistan was apparently considered a prerequisite to action in Iraq.

And then there’s this slide, showing the “Phase IV” plans. That’s mil-speak for “after the invasion,” and it shows that they figured they’d be down to 25,000 troops within a couple of years — and almost totally gone a year or so after that. That hasn’t worked out so well.

More here.

Troop escalations in Iraq

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Kevin Drum over at Washington Monthly has two posts on the troop “surge” which lend some additional light to the situation (President Bush tonight is expected to announce he’s sending an additional 20,000 troops). The first is almost heartbreaking:

More troops in Iraq will almost certainly not make any noticeable difference there. More troops in Afghanistan might, but they aren’t available because of Iraq. It’s worth keeping in mind that Bush’s resistance to withdrawal in Iraq is likely to lead to the United States losing not just one war, but two. I’m not sure if any American president has done that before.

What does Bush’s troop “surge” have to do with Afghanistan? Oh, you know, only preventing our forces from countering a Taliban offensive. Kevin is referring to this Baltimore Sun article:

As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.

“We anticipate significant events there next spring,” said Tata.

At stake, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is the key U.S. strategic imperative of preventing al-Qaida and Taliban forces from establishing terrorist sanctuaries, as Afghanistan was in the late 1990s, when al-Qaida launched operations to bomb U.S. embassies and warships and eventually hatched the Sept. 11 plot.

Kevin’s second post deals with the rationale of sending more troops to Iraq, and just who supports it. It turns out that, somewhat recently, nobody did, according to this Newsweek interview with Iraq Study Group member Leon Panetta:

When your bipartisan panel came to the conclusion that relying on Iraqi forces and embedding U.S. advisors was the right course of action, rather than a surge, did you think that you were reflecting the consensus of the U.S. military at the time?
Yes. We sat down with military commanders there and here, and none of them said that additional troops would solve the fundamental cause of violence, which was the absence of national reconciliation. We always asked if additional troops were needed. We asked the question of [Gen. George] Casey and others, we asked it of Marine commanders in Anbar. Do you need additional troops? They all said the same thing: we don’t need additional troops at this point; we need to get the Iraqis to assume the responsibility they’re supposed to assume…

Did you interview Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who’s about to take over command of multinational forces in Iraq? What did he recommend? He is now said to be a supporter of the surge.
At that time he was talking about the need to train and embed U.S. forces in the Iraqi army. (laughs)

You can say what you will about the Study Group’s recommendations, but I’ve seen nobody question its methodology.

And Rumsfeld is gone…

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The Associated Press, via CNN, reports:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said Wednesday.

Officials said Robert Gates, former head of the CIA, would replace Rumsfeld.

The development occurred one day after congressional elections that cost Republicans control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate as well. Surveys of voters at polling places said opposition to the war was a significant contributor to the Democratic Party’s victory.

President George W. Bush was expected to announce Rumsfeld’s departure and Gates’ nomination at a news conference. Administration officials notified congressional officials in advance.

Looks like Spence was wrong about Lieberman.

Once more, a New Mexican’s perpective from abroad

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I love Kathy’s posts over at What Do I Know — as a former New Mexican living in England, she can offer a different perspective, thanks to the media she has access to and the distance from events here. Yesterday, she blogged about a solemn ceremony marking the return to England of 14 troops killed in an airplane crash in Afghanistan:

How sad. I just watched the repatriation ceremony at RAF Kinross for the 14 British service members killed in Afghanistan when their plane went down. It was moving, dignified, and once again I wondered why the same respect isn’t shown to our men and women who die abroad fighting our wars.

Of course I know the answer. It’s for crass political reasons. Since Ronald Reagan was president, the flag-draped coffins of U.S. service members who are killed abroad are not shown to the American public, in order that the public not be reminded of the painful cost of war. It’s thought that the sight of so many bodies returning to Dover AFB was the reason the public lost support for the Vietnam War.

But our brave men and women who give their lives for their country deserve better. They deserve, for a few minutes, the respect of their country, the dignified silence that surrounds their repatriation to their homeland.

I wiped my tears as they described the men who died in Afghanistan—one wanted to be a pilot, another loved fast cars—and I thought about the young Americans who’ve died without such an honor bestowed on them. Without the country they died for even knowing what their hopes and dreams were.

How sad.

She is absolutely right: we do our military personnel a disservice by not readily and openly recognizing the sacrifices they make on our behalf.