Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From yesterday's USA Today:

In a reversal of trends from past wars, part-time soldiers in the Army National Guard are about one-third more likely to be killed in Iraq than full-time active-duty soldiers serving there, a USA TODAY analysis of Pentagon statistics shows.

According to figures furnished by the military branches, the active Army has sent about 250,000 soldiers to Iraq, and 622 have been killed. That works out to one death for every 402 soldiers who have deployed. About 37,000 Army Guard soldiers have been sent to Iraq since the war began and 140 have died there — one fatality for every 264 soldiers who have served, or about a 35% higher death rate....

Today's update:

The Army National Guard said Monday it had given USA TODAY an inaccurate count of the total number of Guard troops in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003, but still could not provide a precise count....

The Guard said last week that 37,000 Guard troops had set foot in Iraq since the start of the war. On Monday, Guard spokesman Scott Woodham said 90,972 Guard troops had been ordered to Iraq, but he could not say how many had actually gotten there, and how many were in mobilization stations or on their way.

Woodham gave two explanations for the error. In a telephone interview with USA TODAY mid-afternoon Monday, Woodham said the National Guard Bureau made "an internal mistake" in compiling the numbers. He said that personnel at Guard headquarters had misread a series of numbers on a spreadsheet and that accounted for the lower figure.

In a second conversation about two hours later, Woodham said he "misunderstood the question" when asked how many Army Guard troops had deployed to Iraq since the beginning of the war....

Anyone else find this a tad suspicious?

Recall that Spc. Thomas Wilson wasn't the only soldier to ask Donald Rumsfeld a tough question in that recent meeting with the troops:

During the question-and-answer session, another soldier complained that active-duty Army units seem to get priority over National Guard and Reserve units for the best equipment used in Iraq.

Also recall that back in the fall of '03 there were complaints that members of the Guard and Reserve received second-class medical treatment at military facilities.

I think someone told an inconvenient truth to USA Today -- and now it needs to be un-told.

This, however, can't be fudged or explained away:

Battle deaths for part-time troops from the Army Guard and the Army Reserve — who typically drill just a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer unless there is a war — are still significantly higher than for part-time troops in past conflicts, Woodham said. Throughout the 12-year Vietnam War, for example, fewer than 100 Guard troops were killed, compared with the 145 who have died in less than two years in Iraq.

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