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[casi] US Canon Fodder uneasy about its Eternal War Mission

US Canon Fodder growing uneasy about its pointless Eternal War Mission

As relayed by Sen Byrd.

""They (here: MPs) want me to emphasize that they did indeed join the
to serve their country.  However, they were told that they have no mission
and do not want to be sent to Iraq merely for someone's political gain. "




U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd

The Dean of the Congress
The West Virginian of the 20th Century

 For more information, contact:
(202) 224-3904

 July 08, 2003

 Text of Letter to Secretary Rumsfeld Expressing Concerns of Guard Families

 July 8, 2003

The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, D.C.  20301

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:

I have been contacted by a number of my constituents about the extended
deployments of National Guard and Reserve units from West Virginia.  I write
to express my serious concern about the content of these reports.

I have received letters, e-mails, and phone calls from the families of those
who serve in the 459th Engineer Company, the 157th Military Police Company,
the 1092nd Engineer Battalion, the 363rd Military Police Company, the 233rd
Quartermaster Company, and various members of the Individual Ready Reserve.

All of the letters I have received express deep frustration with the length
of deployment of the National Guard and Reserve units.  A number of troops
and their families have expressed desperation at trying to get any sort of
information about when their units might be returning to the United States.
Others have been told to expect their deployment to last until January 2004.
At least one reservist had been given a date to return to the United States,
only to have that date changed five times.  Although this soldier was issued
orders that his deployment was not to exceed 179 days, he has now been
overseas for more than 200 days, and he was recently told that he could
remain overseas until September.

It is important to note that some of the units that have been deployed to
Iraq on missions  of uncertain duration have already been strained by
previous missions.  For example, the 157th Military Police Company was
activated for state duty in response to flooding in the summer of 2001, then
spent one year deployed in support of homeland security missions, and was
again mobilized in February 2003 for duty in the Persian Gulf region.  While
these citizen-soldiers are proud to serve their country, they have expected
some limits on how often their unit can be expected to mobilize.

Along with the frustration about the length of deployments for members of
the reserve component, several constituents have reported that their units
in Iraq are without a useful or well-defined mission.  Units have complained
of daily tasks that are either wasteful or insufficient to keep the troops
occupied.  Others report that they never received any training for
potentially dangerous missions, such as hauling Iraqi ammunition.

Another e-mail, whose author says that she is writing on behalf of a
military police company, stated her point succinctly.  She wrote: "They want
me to emphasize that they did indeed join the military to serve their
country.  However, they were told that they have no mission and do not want
to be sent to Iraq merely for someone's political gain.  They really just
want to know when they are coming home."

I have also received several reports of rationing of basic supplies and
services.  At a family support meeting, families were told that one unit had
limited supplies of food and water rations of just 20 ounces per day.
Soldiers with another National Guard unit have reported through their
families that they are only allowed one 10-minute phone call home every
several weeks.

In addition to these reports, the wife of one soldier has reported that,
during a family readiness meeting, she was warned not to contact her
representatives in Congress to seek redress of these legitimate grievances
because her husband's commanding officer might take away from his troops
telephone use and other privileges.

These reports of open-ended or vague missions and the shortage in critical
supplies and services should be taken very seriously.  While our
citizen-soldiers are proud to serve their country, they also have an
obligation to serve their communities, their jobs, and their families.

I respectfully request that you look into these reports.  My constituents
are anxious to know when their family members who are deployed as part of
the National Guard and the reserves may expect to return to the United
States.  I join them in expressing the concern that too much of the nation's
focus has shifted away from these men and women who still stand in harm's
way since the major combat operations in Iraq have been declared over.  I
look forward to your response.

With kind regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Robert C. Byrd

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