Friday, March 04, 2005

You know that there are serious shortfalls in U.S. military recruiting these days. Now Stars and Stripes notes a downturn that's been going on for some time:

The Army’s wartime recruiting challenge is aggravated by a sharp drop in black enlistments over the last four years, which internal Army and Defense Department polls trace to an unpopular war in Iraq and concerns among blacks with Bush administration policies.

The Army is straining to meet recruiting goals in part because the number of black volunteers has fallen 41 percent — from 23.5 percent of recruits in fiscal 2000 down steadily to 13.9 percent in the first four months of fiscal 2005....

Officer recruiting is hit, too. Black enrollment in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program is down 36 percent since 2001....

Harlem congressman Charles Rangel is interviewed, and he makes the obvious point:

“I have not found a black person in support of this war in my district,” he said. “The fact that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus emotionally, politically and vigorously opposes this war is an indication of what black folks think throughout this country.”

Rangel also said there was “overwhelming disappointment” among blacks after Bush, in a disputed election, became president in 2001, and the disappointment “plummeted after he declared war in Iraq.”

Of course, even after a drop of this magnitude, blacks are 13.9% of recruits and 14% of all recruiting-age youth. So they're doing their part. They're just not doing more than their part anymore.


(Masochists can read the Free Republic discussion of this article, where commenter mariabush, whose tagline is "We voted like we prayed," declares, "Charlie Rangle [sic] needs to be tried and shot for treason. He is aiding and abetting the enemy.")


UPDATE: And gosh, what on earth could those African-Americans be so squeamish about?

A growing number of U.S. troops whose body armor helped them survive bomb and rocket attacks are suffering brain damage as a result of the blasts. It's a type of injury some military doctors say has become the signature wound of the Iraq war.

...From January 2003 to this January, 437 cases of TBI [traumatic brain injury] were diagnosed among wounded soldiers at the Army hospital, Lux says. Slightly more than half had permanent brain damage....

Symptoms of TBI vary. They include headaches, sensitivity to light or noise, behavioral changes, impaired memory and a loss in problem-solving abilities.

In severe cases, victims must relearn how to walk and talk. "It's like being born again, literally," says Sgt. Edward "Ted" Wade, 27, a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division who lost his right arm and suffered TBI in an explosion last year near Fallujah. Today, he sometimes struggles to formulate a thought, and his eyes blink repeatedly as he concentrates.

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