Thursday, January 11, 2007

What Surge?


President Bush, I am told, has announced a "surge" of American troops deploying into Iraq. Ostensibly, the idea is to flood the streets of Baghdad with enough security forces to overwhelm those who would attempt to undermine progress in Iraq. Democrats are tiptoeing around the subject, pandering opportunists like McCain and Malkin are celebrating, and most of the soldiers I know are, well, furious.

All I keep seeing is this catchword in the media. Surge. Surge. Surge. There's something vaguely homoerotic about it. It suggests a dramatic flow of resources into an area, while at the same time hinting at a sort of "last gasp" from an already crumbling military-industrial complex.

And crumbling it is.

What people don't get about this so-called "surge" is the actual execution of said maneuver. Send in 20,000 more troops, says President Bush. Sounds like a big number, and it's sure to get the war cheerleaders stateside hopping with excitment, right? But there are a couple of problems here: the soldiers being called up to fill the requirements for such a surge are either A) currently committed in-theater, or B) already en route to said theater. An actual mobilization of troops takes months to execute, between planning, shipping of equipment and actual deployment, so the great lie at work here is that the forces being committed to the theater weren't already going to be committed there anyway. The only thing being done right now is to extend a few units (to include members of a Minnesota guard element I know) while deploying a few others sooner. On top of this, even with a troop increase of 20,000, the number of boots on the ground in Iraq is still lower than it was even last December, during the most recent election. Bear in mind, General Shinseki, our former Chief of Staff, wanted 300,000 soldiers for an occupation, and he was ousted for his unwillingness to sell the lie. For all this talk of "surge" and "getting the job done right," the whole thing is just a gigantic fucking sham. It's window dressing. It's intended to keep a war-weary but docile American populace pacified enough to allow the money train to roll just a little longer for the men in power. It's a stall tactic so that our leader won't have to admit to outright failure for as long as he remains in office.

What the bloodless, soulless hawks don't want anyone to know is this: even if we wanted to pull more troops together right now, we couldn't. Retention rates at present (especially in my MOS) are dismal, with multiple deployments less than a year apart for the past four years and continuing into the foreseeable future. Instead of stop-loss orders being put into effect from 90 days before a deployment, those stop-loss plans are occurring up to 180 days before said movements. Six months after the last tour, soldiers I know were already locked in, unable to avoid the current rotation. Divorce rates are well above 50 percent in some specialties, and the post-deployment turnover levels in my line of work were over 75 percent from the last cycle. Our equipment is breaking down. In many cases, we no longer even ship our gear out of theater; we just sign it over to our replacement unit. The vehicle I was assigned back in Germany is in fact superior to what I've been dealt here in Iraq. We don't even have parts enough to replace or repair the equipment that DOES break down. We drive vehicles with damaged ballistic windows, because we can't get them repaired. THIS is why our military relies so much on contracted labor. This is why Ugandan security contractors--mercenaries--guard our posts and key facilities, rather than American soldiers. We barely have the funding for anything else.

No sane, rational mind can look at what is going on here, and believe honestly that a temporary boost of 20,000 soldiers is going to fix the mess that we've created. I'm lucky enough, not being infantry (thank my wife), that I actually spend more time inside the wire than out. That being said, I do go out, and I do see our handiwork, and I do see what goes on just over the fence.

And nothing I see here can be solved by what Bush--who won't even listen to his own generals--has planned.


Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Groan. This is such a mess and we sure can't expect the person creating the mess to clean it up. We're going out to protest today and I will think of you while we are there. Little comfort, I know.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Spc. Freeman said...

You're telling me.

Protest more, protest longer. Shouter higher, louder, harder. I want the streets flooded. Regardless of what anyone says, you're doing a good thing for the country.


5:32 PM  
Blogger iamcoyote said...

We're housebound due to an ice storm, Milo, but I'm writing to my reps this morning. This is starting to really look scary; I'm not sure anything can stop the madness anymore. Keep your head down, brother.

6:17 PM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

I am so very tired of this little, spoiled man refusing to listen to anyone with experience, anyone with expertise--anyone at all, really. He did say he'd stay the course even if it's only his dog and wife who support him. People were charmed by that. I was horrified. I want to take his pontification about marriage protection and promotion and show him the divorce rates in the military. I want to drag his ass over there and make him LOOK at what's happened. I want him to explain to me why it is you're driving vehicles held together with bandaids and bailing wire while he's refusing to raise taxes and mouthing platitudes about fucking sacrifice. If one good thing can come out of this, I'd love to see the military break away from the Republican party once and for all, but I don't have that much faith.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous mik said...

To think, one of our better presidents was almost impeached for having sex and this crazy nut is leading us down the road to perdition and no-one seems to have the power to stop him. Come on, congress.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous delia443 said...

the sad thing mik, is that the Dems in congress aren't much better than the people they barely ousted. They are lining their pockets and taking their spoiled children for granted here in the states while the children of the poor--and we're all poor compared to those assholes on the Hill and their cronies--fight a war we don't want them to fight. Sure, we have to do something to get ourselves out of Iraq physically, but when they start talking about sacrifice to do it, then I want to puke. Yeah, there are a few Congresspeople with kids in combat, but by far, the spoiled little children of the majority or Congress stay at home in private schools and prestigious colleges. THAT I think is the saddest measure of our ethical grounds as a country. Why are we not screaming for the blood of the rich fucks who have betrayed us so thoroughly? Why are we not demanding that their children be sent to the combat zones with their units? Even the Queen of England is trying to keep the Dauphin from joining his unit in the Middle East. Let's face it, until these pricks on both sides of the Pond require EQUAL sacrifice from the whole populace, not just the impoverished, the working poor, and the lower-middle class we're gonna be mired in this shit-hole for the rest of our lives in one way or another.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Just telling it like it is said...

My mind is deboggled...More than anything I want all of our troops to come home...My sisters husband has been in Iraq 2 times both times it was for a year tour...

I can only say that my prayers are with you and all that are there with you. I personally have known many soldiers, Marines (my father in NAM) who have given days of their lives for a war that somehow does not seem to have an end...

I think of all of you...I care...get home safe... We want you all home safe...

2:12 AM  
Anonymous soul pumpkin said...

right on target again,'s so enlightening getting info from someone in the thick of might hearten you to know that there were nearly 600 peace rallies across the country tonight...probably have to tune in to the BBC or other foreign news service to see any footage though...couldn't attend a local gathering, as my band was doing a gig, but i made it a point to slip in as many references to this madness as was possible...when playing "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye, it seemed especially poignant and amplified by the fact that that song was written in 1970...perhaps some day we will learn how to wage peace...this prayer is on a constantly running loop in my brain...

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stay safe Milo, we're thinking of you. I hope that someone in your country finally developes enough backbone to stand up to these stubborn little thugs in Washington, soon. Someone with a brain needs to take control of an out-of-control situation.


7:54 PM  
Anonymous Connie said...

Hi Milo,

Have you seen this post by Shakespeare's Sister? I think you'll appreciate it.

Stay safe...

9:16 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Spc. Freeman, there isn't a doubt in my mind that the only real way to help the troops stationed in Iraq is to get them the hell out of there. The problem all along has been that too many people are disconnected from the reality of what we are doing, and what is happening to those who we send into that meat grinder.

I am so glad to hear from a thoughtful soldier who is willing to tell the truth about what is happening in Iraq. I only wish I knew of a way to make your words reach every house in America-even the Chimpleton houses. People need to face up to what we've done, what we're doing, and what we'll never get done.

9:22 AM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

With every move Bush makes it gets scarier and more stupefying.

Have you seen what your new Secretary had to say about his own military IQ?

Safe and Healthy, Milo.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Wil Robinson said...

Mr. Freeman-
Your post adds some much needed reality to a picture that is being painted by greedy and power-hungry elites in Washington that know little about Iraq or the Middle East (other than having the world's supply of oil).

I hope more people will read yours and other soldiers' writing that shows not everyone in the military is a Bush fan, and that dissent can be just as American and patriotic as loyalty. What America needs at home is to refrain from painting the anti-war crowd as cowards and ones who would embrace defeat.

Keep your eyes open.

1:35 AM  
Blogger toadman said...

You've explained this "surge" in terms that I was certain it was all about. Our so called leaders are completely out of touch with reality, it seems. I shudder to know that so many people still blindly follow them. Have you heard they're thinking of starting up the draft?

Yeah.. that'll be fun.

Keep your head down Milo, and keep writing.

3:44 PM  
Blogger green libertarian said...

Excellent analysis, Milo. Only one thing missing.

It's the war profiteering, stupid. (not you, of course).

As long as the Mil/Industrial complex continues to make obscene profits in Iraq, the war will go on.

Planned chaos is the most profitable for the war profiteers and their beneficiaries.

Ugandan private security contractors? You've GOT to be kidding me. No, I bet you're not. Unreal.

1:15 AM  
Blogger spocko said...

Wow. Great post.

And for
I want to drag his ass over there and make him LOOK at what's happened. I want him to explain to me why it is you're driving vehicles held together with band aids and bailing wire while he's refusing to raise taxes and mouthing platitudes about fucking sacrifice

That's the thing isn't it? It's always on "the TV screen". And how much of it was keep from him by people who don't want to upset him. I remember reading the story of a high ranking official who wanted to tell him the bad news and didn't.

There is a saying in the movie business about spending 'other people's money" never your own.
Kind of like the neo-cons spending other people's children, never their own. Jenna and non-Jenna seem healthy and of age.

KEEP up the analysis.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous WitchWay11 said...

I just came here via a link at and I definitely plan on coming back! Thank you and stay safe.

5:32 PM  

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