Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2004 » Interesting quote...

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12/20/2004: Interesting quote...

from a Bob Herbert column in the New York Times. The topic is the bAdministration and it's passion to wage war on the cheap, and how it affects Army morale. This passage caught my eye:

Because of severe military personnel shortages, large numbers of troops are serving multiple tours in the war zone, and many are having their military enlistments involuntarily extended.

Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

"Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do," said Mr. Rieckhoff. "But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale."
How much you want to bet that nobody in the upper echelons of the Pentagon would be able to identify Colonel Cathcart, and one of the reasons why he was such a shitty squadron commander?

Because I'm home for a week of vacation over the holidays, I'm seeing a bit more TV than normal, which is why this passage also grabbed my attention:
A reckoning is coming. The Army National Guard revealed last Thursday that it had missed its recruiting goals for the past two months by 30 percent. Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, who heads the National Guard Bureau, said: "We're in a more difficult recruiting environment, period. There's no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard's participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult."

Just a few days earlier, the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that, if not reversed, could lead to renewed discussions about reinstatement of the draft.
During this SpikeTV afternoon block of Star Trek (DS9 and TNG) they ran a number of Army Reserve recruiting commercials. One of them surprised me; after showing a number of fresh faced, energetic and enthusiastic reservists, the announcer says, "Thes citizens became soldiers and serve their country without giving up their civilian lives."

WTF? Given the heavy reliance on the Reserves in Iraq and Afghanistan, what's the odds that a Reservist or Guardsman could enlist today, and not wind up being sent to Iraq? Probably soon.

Someone needs to vet those commercials a bit more closely. Another Army Reserve commercial was less misleading. It shows a number of empty cubicles, empty auto mechanics' service bays, empty dorm rooms, accompanied by subtitles explaining why the cubiciles, service bays, dorm rooms, etc. are empty: "Currently training Iraqi police officers", "Spending two weeks studying tropical diseases in Guatemala", "Currently hunting Osama Bin Laden". At least this commercial is more upfront about a likely result of Reserve enlistment. I can't possibly think it's helping enlistment any, though.

Len on 12.20.04 @ 09:04 PM CST

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December 2004

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