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    Uncle Sam Wants Your Kids -- Now!

    Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.)

    Weâll soon have 150,000 U.S. troops stuck in the ever-expanding Iraqi quagmire, a number that will probably grow even larger before Iraq holds elections presently scheduled for the end of January â05.

    Maintaining such a force is a logistical and personnel nightmare for every grunt in Iraq. And according to several Pentagon number crunchers, itâs also driving the top brass bonkers.

    Meanwhile the insurgents continue cutting our supply lines and whacking our fighting platoons and supporters, who attrit daily as soldiers and Marines fall to enemy shots, sickness or accidents. Empty platoons lose fights, so these casualties have to be replaced ASAP.

    Since this tragic war kicked off in March 2003, the United States has evacuated an estimated 50,000 KIA, WIA and non-battle casualties from Iraq back to the States â leaving 50,000 slots that have had to be filled.

    The job of finding fresh bodies to keep our units topped off falls mainly to the Army Recruiting Command. But the âmaking-quotaâ jazz put out by the Recruiting Command and the Pentagon to hype their billion-dollar recruiting effort, with its huge TV expenditure and big expansion of recruiters during the past year, is pure unadulterated spin. Not that this is anything new. The Command has a sorry reputation for using smoke and mirrors to cover up poor performance.

    âHack, hereâs a snapshot of how little of our 1st Quarter mission has been achieved,â says an Army recruiter. âLook at it from a perspective of a business releasing quarterly earnings information. To keep unit manning levels up out in the field, especially in Iraq, thereâs no question our recruiting mission is in serious trouble.â

    âThese are totals for the 41 USAREC (Recruiting Command) Battalions, so these stats represent the USAREC mission accomplishment:

    Regular Army Volume (all RA contracts):

    Mission: 25,322

    Achieved: 12,703 (50.17 percent)

    Army Reserve Volume:

    Mission: 7,373

    Achieved: 3,206 (43.48 percent).â

    The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention NCO says: âThe word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. âDo not join the Guard.â I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A.â

    By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right.

    Shades of our last years in Vietnam.

    âThe bottom line is that Recruiting Command is in trouble,â says another recruiter with almost 30 years of service. âThe Army has re-instituted âstop loss,â which is basically a backdoor draft. Theyâre stopping people from retiring or completing their enlistment and leaving the Army. They do this fairly often, mostly in August and September, depending upon how far behind they believe theyâll be at the end of September.

    âI believe the Army will have to drastically change what they offer to enlistees to overcome whatâs happening in Iraq. The war is ugly, and not many kids want to enlist to be blown up.â

    Moms and dads are outraged about desperate Army recruiters on a relentless campaign to sign up their teenagers. High-school kids are actually running away from recruiters like they were George Romeroâs living dead.

    âRecruiters have called my son a minimum of 20 times in the two years since he finished high school,â a dad reports. âThe phone calls usually come in clusters. I answered five calls in a two- or three-week span. Each time a recruiter calls, he receives the same polite, respectful response from me or my son ... no interest, and please take the name off the list. When asked why the name hasnât been removed, excuses are made. While recruiters are brief with me, when my son is on the phone, the sales tactics are clever, prolonged and very high-pressure.â

    âI took the latest recruiting call. This time I also called the supervisor at the local Army recruiting office, whoâs promised to take his name off the list. She made excuses for the repeated calls despite the fact that five calls were on her watch.â

    Unless a miracle happens and the new Iraqi security force decides to stop running and start fighting, weâll be in Iraq for a long time. Most likely with a draftee force.

    -- Eilhys England contributed to this column.

    Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.) is SFTT.org co-founder and Senior Military Columnist for DefenseWatch magazine. For information on his many books, go to his home page at Hackworth.com, where you can sign in for his free weekly Defending America. Send mail to P.O. Box 11179, Greenwich, CT 06831. His newest book is âSteel My Soldiersâ Hearts.â © 2004 David H. Hackworth. Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com.

    — Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.)
    Free Republic (Reprinted)


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