Friday, March 07, 2008

Other Items

Secretary of the Army Pete Geren will be asked today to convene a panel of officers to investigate "Army policies and practices which permit the deployment of medically unfit soldiers."
Spec. Bryan Currie, 21, of Charleston, S.C., will ask Geren to convene a Court of Inquiry -- a rarely used administrative fact-finding process -- to investigate top generals at Fort Carson; Fort Drum, N.Y.; and Fort Hood, Texas.
A Court of Inquiry is composed of at least three high-ranking military officers and can subpoena civilians. Geren can refuse the request.
"It's very important for the Army and very important for my clients. This is an investigation that is long overdue," said Louis Font, a Boston attorney who represents Currie and Spec. Alex Lotero, 21, a Fort Carson soldier from Miami.
The request says the Court of Inquiry should "investigate the extent to which the (generals) have been derelict in failing to provide for the health and welfare of wounded soldiers."
Font and Citizen Soldier, a veterans advocacy group, plan a news conference today in Watertown, N.Y. Copies of the request will be provided to the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, Font said.

The above is from Erin Emery's "Soldiers seek deployment probe: The Army will be asked to investigate generals for deploying ailing GIs" (Denver Post) and you can pair that with Peter Spiegel's "Repeated Iraq deployments raise mental health risks for soldiers" (Los Angeles Times):

More than a quarter of higher-ranking enlisted soldiers showed signs of mental health problems after being sent to war zones for the third or fourth time, a sharp increase over those on their first or second deployments, according to a military study issued Thursday.
The findings of a new Army report on the behavioral health of soldiers in Iraq are the first to quantify the stress of repeated deployments on combat soldiers. The data are likely to increase calls by senior Army leaders to cut the length of combat tours and increase the time soldiers have between deployments.
Although the Army has been measuring the mental health of troops in Iraq since the beginning of the war, the study is the first to draw clear conclusions about troops on their third or fourth tours, the authors said.
The report showed that 27.2% of noncommissioned officers -- the sergeants responsible for leading troops in combat -- reported mental health problems during their third or fourth tours. That was up from 18.5% of those on their second tour and 11.9% of those on their first tour. Mental health problems include signs of depression, anxiety and stress disorders.

While those who aren't healthy enough to be sent to Iraq are sent (or the US military tries to), Moqtada al-Sadr remains in hiding. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports:

Powerful Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has not been seen in public for months, issued an unusual statement on Friday explaining his absence to his followers and admitting splits in his movement.
"I swear that I live with you and among you. I am a part of you. I will not change this unless death separates us," he said in a two-page statement bearing his personal stamp.
The statement was issued two weeks after Sadr extended a ceasefire by his Mehdi Army for another six months. He first called on the militia, blamed by the U.S. military and Sunni Arabs for fuelling sectarian violence, to halt its activities in August so that he could reorganise it.

What's that about? While Sadr City residents feel targeted, al-Sadr's not there. He's renewed a cease-fire/truce that the residents didn't favor and the attitude then (which is only growing) is, "Why should we listen to someone who's not even here standing with us?" (He's rumored to be in Najaf, working as a hotel clerk.) A "leader" has to be seen as standing with (and suffering with) the people. al-Sadr is not seen as such currently and his little 'gift' of a message won't have much impact. Already the rumbles have moved on to wonder if he is collaborating with the US and every day he is out of Sadr City, he is futher weakened. That isn't at all surprising and any student of history could have seen it coming. In his absence, the rumors circulate and issuing 'press releases' to the residents of Sadr City will not raise his standing.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Mercury News offers "Editorial: Colossal costs of war in Iraq compound deceit" about the three trillion dollars wasted on the illegal war.

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