Comments: Our World

Poetry. Sheer poetry. Thank you.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at March 15, 2005 02:59 PM


The Army we have. Oh, c'mon Anne.

There are so many issues with this one anecdotal story - to include there was actually nothing wrong with the guy except stress..and as a major in a transportation unit, this guy wasn't the one lifting cargo. Also, under the one Army concept, Reserve/Guard soldiers have the same fitness expectations as their active duty counterparts. Of course, since most don't serve "full time" until mobilized, there is more onus on the individual.

This problem was recognized after the problems associated with mobilizing reservists (both Reserve and national guard) in support of Desert Shield/Storm in 90-91. When reservists were mobilized during the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991, the Army discovered that due to medical reasons or poor dental status a significant number of them could not be deployed or had their deployment
delayed. In an effort to obviate similar problems, Congress passed four statutory requirements to monitor the health status of those designated as early-deploying reservists. These requirements are in
addition to two requirements that had been in place prior to the Persian Gulf War. To meet these requirements, the Army is to provide annual medical screenings, annual dental screenings, selected dental treatment,
and for those over age 40, physical examinations every 2 years. Early-
deploying reservists are required to disclose annually to the Army the status of their physical and dental condition, and those under age 40 are required to undergo a physical examination once every 5 years. The physical includes EKG, lab work, etc.

Since Vietnam, the military (especially the Army under the Abrams doctrine) has made it a point to rely on the reserves for extended campaigns and in some cases, specialty skills for most operations. Given our long standing history of fear of large standing armies (justifiable in my view), this doctrine ensured extended use of the military by the executive branch would force to a degree nationwide interest and get pressure on state and congressional leaders to scrutinize any extended use of the military.

The record of the Clinton administration in this area was terrible. Little action was done to supervise and enforce the requirements in the reserves at the senior level and even worse, the address the appropriate mix of specialities and skills between the active and reserve components, especially when the administration was drawing done the size of the Army. The Bush administration too had a hint of the problems after the mobilizations following 9/11 in support of Noble Eagle (Homeland defense mobilizations).

Specifically though, leadership is the most important element of combat power. The young officer/NCO is the most important element in mission accomplishment. Period. They ensure standards and discipline are enforced and that the job is done to standard. Their enforcement of standards and discipline keep their soldiers alive.

Unit rotations are known in well in advance to allow for training and preparation. Shame on the guy in the article if he wasn't wearing his body armor or weight bearing equipment before he deployed to get used to it - and ensuring the others in his unit were doing the same - especially if he had a "desk job" - note: I've been in a desk job for several years now and don't do organized unit PT - but still find time to exercise and march with my rucksack because it's part of what being a Soldier is about.

The healthier a soldier is the better chance he has of surviving a wound or avoiding the numerous illnesses. Good hard physical training is an important factor. Letting that slip, especially when your unit is in the reserves and you don't have as frequent contact with your soldiers, is an easy trap to fall into - fortunately, when you look carefully at the evacuation numbers in proportion to the overall numbers and given the climate, operational tempo, and challenges in the area of operations, we actually have a significant pool of great leaders who are doing a tremendous job in taking care of their soldiers and accomplishing difficult missions.

The Army we have - best in the world- and one the country should be proud of - which I think is reflected in most opinion polls when folks are asked about their confidence in various institutions..

Posted by Col Steve at March 16, 2005 12:05 PM

Col Steve -

Seriously, I don't post these things to annoy you. I really don't.

On the other hand, every time I annoy you, I learn an awful lot. :) If I can't get you to start your own blog, then annoying you in mine seems to be the fastest way to get you to talk!

Posted by Anne at March 16, 2005 02:47 PM

Anne - no annoyance taken - you get me to read things I might not normally read!

Politics: Bolton nomination. Go back and look at the history of UN Ambassadors who have taken a tough, sometimes adversarial approach to the UN (Moynihan - "do battle for the Lord." or Kirkpatrick as examples). Recall Britain's UN representative Ivor Richard chastised Moynihan for 'cowboy behavior' and practicing the diplomacy of a 'Wyatt Earp.'"

Don't think Ms. Ivins wants us to recall that nomination though in her criticism that our European friends might take offense to Bolton's nomination.

We tried the forge a consensus apprpach under Albright and Holbrooke..even Danforth. What is your opinion of the record of the UN? I don't think Bolton is another Moynihan, but sending someone willing to be a little adversarial and challenge the organization might be just what is needed. And I suspect if a little Bolton rubs off on the UN, a little of the good things and promise of the UN might rub off on Bolton.


Posted by Col Steve at March 18, 2005 12:11 AM