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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 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. " Best Andreas ---------------------- http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_newsroom/byrd_news_july/byrd_2003_julylist/byrd_ 2003_julylist_2.html 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 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk