Sunday, August 10, 2003

Is military stretched too thin? Our readers respond

Last week we asked readers to share their thoughts on the question: "Is our military stretched too thin?" We also asked them to discuss how the deployment of loved ones overseas is affected them.

Here are some of those responses:

Mother of newborn was deployed

When my daughter left the U.S. Army a few years ago as an Arabic Language Specialist and became an officer in Naval Intelligence, she expressed deep concern for the current state of the Army. She said to me, "Our Army is in such a mess due to depleted manpower and underfunding. If our country ever has to fight a war or two fronts we are doomed."

When a country's army has been so depleted they have to deploy mothers of tiny infants overseas for several months leaving traumatized babies at their most critical time of their development this should be a wake-up call.

Karen Dinsmore, Maineville


Parents don't share soldier's enthusiasm

It is with great interest and a very heavy hearts that my husband and I read the editorial portion of the Enquirer and the other few stories we can find about the war in Iraq.

Our son Spc. John W. Bentley has been in Iraq since April 29. He is serving in the U.S. Army as part of the Old Ironsides Unit, Bravo Co. 70th Engineers. He has been in the Army for a liver over two years and is planning on making it his career. He loves what he is doing and believes in what they are doing. During a recent conversation, I asked him if he was happy he was there? His response was a loud and firm, "Hell, Yes." I wish we, as parents, could share his enthusiasm.

This is John's second deployment during his career. He served in Kuwait for six months last year.

It appears by the letters that he sends that they are being kept very busy trying to rebuild and keep improving the living conditions for the Iraqi people. They usually work 96-hours on and 24-hours off. The temperatures are known to hit 130-140 degrees. However, you will not hear him complain.

How it affects us, as parents, is another story. Each time I hear that another soldier has been killed or injured, my heart aches. I wait to see a strange car pull into my driveway or wonder what I would do if someone dressed in an army uniform appeared in my office door.

We do think the military is being stretched very thin. And yet, John, would tell us that they all know when they sign the dotted line what it may mean

Nancy Lewellen, Eastgate


Military size must be increased

As a WWII veteran , I strongly urge the increase in the U.S. Army size.

Despite the technological advances in equipment and weapons, it is still the grunts who must seize or police the territory. Air power alone can never do it although it is effective in softening the enemy. In the current situation in Iraq air power is useless. Except in Korea and Bosnia, where soldiers are acting as policemen, the enemy is shadowy and, unfortunately, effective. The best minds in the Pentagon should be put to work to devise tactics to combat these guerrilla forces.

When you join the Army, Navy, or Air Force, you should expect overseas duty or you shouldn't be in the Armed Forces. It goes with the territory.

Wade Atkinson, Kenwood


Time to consider compulsory service

Now is the time, once again, to re-think compulsory military service. To properly prepare for the years ahead, we must have a standing well-trained and disciplined military. Whether we are facing a nuclear threat, North Korea, or a continued "war on terrorism," we can longer depend completely on "weekend warriors."

The reserves and national guardsman have done a splendid job, but the continued threat of having our cities and citizens in harms way requires a much larger Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.

Compulsory military service, as practiced in Israel and Switzerland, offers all young men and women a chance, not only to serve their country, but also to learn skills, enhance their education, and a chance to develop a work ethic at time in their lives when they are most challenged.

Charles Stix, Indian Hill


Vietnam changed troop deployment

The article ("It's time to rethink the size of the U.S. Army," Aug. 3) cited a figure of 136,000 reservists on active duty and went on to lament about ripping citizen soldiers from their families, jobs and careers, as well as stripping many communities of vital members of their fire and police forces. .After Vietnam, Gen. Creighton Abrams became the Army's chief of staff. During his tenure there he revamped the force structure to require that for an Army division to be deployed, some part of its full fighting strength had to come from the reserves. It could deploy rapidly on call, but for it to function at full mission, reserve units had to "flesh it out." It is the price we pay for an all volunteer army.

How little we learn from history.

Thomas A. Vonderahe, Clifton


Military families undergo much stress

I am the wife of a lieutenant serving in Baghdad, with the 1st Armored Division out of Baumholder, Germany, and I strongly agree with the story ("It's time to rethink the size of the U.S. Army.")

My husband and I will be married 20 months by the time he returns home in May. Out of those 20 months, we will have only been together four of those months. Since he has been in Iraq, I have had to deal with many hard times, such as family illnesses, and the miscarriage of our first child, alone. We knew we would have to make sacrifices when we chose to make the Army our lives, but I don't want our sacrifices to be "expected" by our government.

Jessica Holbrook, Cold Spring.

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