Recently, the Marine Corps announced that it is going to begin recalling 2,500 inactive reservists for duty in Iraq. A colleague, who has already completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and is not thrilled about having to make yet another try at bringing democracy to the Middle East, said he went on the Corps Web site and discovered the call-up could be more extensive than it was described in the mainstream media. Web site information indicated that the 2,500 would be an initial call-up and there could be more.
That's great. Men and women who have already put their lives on the line two or more times are going to be asked to do it again, because crazy Don Rumsfeld ignored real military men such as Marine General Anthony Zinni and Army General Eric Shinseki when they warned him he was going into Iraq with too few soldiers and too little equipment.
Four years later and the troops continue to pay the price of that blunder, with no end in sight and little or nothing they can do about it. Unless they revive Nancy Reagan's solution to the drug problem: Just say no!
But they can't do that in the military, you say. Don't be so sure.
Recently, the brass in Iraq decided it was time to strengthen the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad, which houses the U.S. military headquarters and what passes for an Iraqi government, among other things. The Green Zone is surrounded by a large brown zone made up of seething Iraqis who have somehow managed to ignore Dick Cheney's prediction that they would be pelting our boys with flowers and sweets.
The response of the commanders in Iraq has been to bring more soldiers in to defend the Green Zone. These are people who apparently never heard of Dien Ben Phu.
The bolstering force consists of 12,000 soldiers -- 7,000 Americans, the remainder Iraqis. The remainder, however, appears to be shrinking. According to the Aug. 29 New York Times, a hundred or so Iraqi warriors from the 4th Brigade of the 10th Iraqi Division, have declined to participate. They, officers and enlisted personnel, decided they would prefer to remain in Maysan Province, where things are apparently less hectic.
As their commanding general put it: "The majority of this particular unit was Shia and they felt -- their leadership of that unit and their soldiers -- like they were needed down there in Maysan."
Well, of course, just like some selfish New York and Pennsylvania National Guardsmen feel they're needed in New York and Pennsylvania, where their families and jobs are located.
Meanwhile, sectarian violence in Iraq continues to escalate, with Shiite militia and Iraqi Army units battling in Diwaniya on Monday, a skirmish that left dozens dead and many more wounded, including several soldiers who were reportedly executed by militiamen after their ammunition had run out. Nine Americans were killed the day before.
Even so, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, lead spokesman for the American military, our side's version of Baghdad Bob, told The Times that murders and other attacks in Baghdad were down in August. And there was this added assurance in the Times' story:
"Iraqi, American and British officials continue to assert that a civil war here can be averted."
Including the one that's going on around them?
Rossie is associate editor; his column is published on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
© 2006 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin