Tune in to Reality -- All this talk about gay marriage has us wondering: Don't the supporters of this change know that marriage is among our most sacred institutions? Don't they know that it's traditions like marriage that buoy us in the face of a changing cultural tides -- that preserve our sense of all that is good and right? Don't they know that marriage is reserved only for a man and a woman... brought together by 40 million Americans watching them on a reality TV show?
Active Duty -- As the U.S. digs deeper into Iraq, a controversy is brewing within the armed forces about the role of the National Guard there, along with future conflicts. Some say being deployed to Iraq or other hot spots is the kind of duty these reservists signed up for; others say they are being used like regular troops, even though they aren't on full-time, active duty.
Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Guardsman Seth Martin wrote recently that "What reserves did not sign up for was to be overused by a Department of Defense that has spread itself too thin with too few people and too many conflicts."
Martin has been deployed in Iraq since March. About 30 percent of the forces currently keeping the peace in Iraq are national guardsmen and -women, who are often in their thirties and have jobs and families. Eleven of the 60 American troops killed in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to hostilities have been guardsmen.
Complicating the situation is Bush's insistence on going to Iraq alone; allies are not coming forward with troops to help in the rebuilding phase in the numbers the Pentagon had hoped for. And the cost at home is mounting as well, as businesses small and large are impacted when employees leave for a year or more. Police departments can be hit hardest, with as many as 20 percent of their numbers called up in some cases. The sheer numbers are gaining attention and leading to a closer look from a Pentagon with more commitments and fewer active personnel than it had 10 years ago. In Missouri alone, 36 National Guard companies are currently deployed; between 1991-01, only two were ever deployed.
The big worry is that the changing nature of the reserve job will lead to declining numbers, perhaps calling into question the all-volunteer military. On Sept. 30, the latest statistics on how many new guardsmen have signed up and how many current guardsmen have stayed in will be released. Military insiders are saying that a dip of even 3 percent will be cause for immediate action on the issue.
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Publication date: 08/21/03