However you think the war is going, or whether we should even be fighting it, one can help but for fear the military itself.
Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by the Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.
At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Fred Kaplan looks at the dumbing-down of new recruitment standards so the military can maintain itself:
Further evidence that the war in Iraq is wrecking the U.S. Army: Recruiters, having failed to meet their enlistment targets, are now being authorized to pursue high-school dropouts and (not to mince words) stupid people.
This year the Army set a goal of recruiting 80,000 active-duty soldiers, but it wound up with just 73,000—almost 10 percent short. As a result, the Army Times reported this week, the Pentagon has decided to make up the difference by expanding the pool—by letting up to 10 percent of new recruits be young men and women who have neither graduated high school nor earned a General Equivalency Diploma.
We need the lower standards to replace Super Soldiers like this one:
Nagl, 41, has been one of the Army’s most outspoken officers in recent years. (This is a huge point against him, careerwise; the brass look askance at officers, especially those without stars, who draw attention to themselves.) He played a substantial role in drafting the Army’s recent field manual on counterinsurgency. His 2002 book, Learning To Eat Soup With a Knife, based on his doctoral dissertation at Oxford (another point against him in some circles), is widely hailed as a seminal book on CI warfare. (It was after reading the book that Gen. David Petraeus asked Nagl to join the panel that produced the field manual.) From 2003-2004, he served as the operations officer of a battalion in Iraq’s Anbar province, where he tried to put his ideas into action (and, in the process, became the subject of a 9,200-word New York Times Magazine profile by Peter Maass, titled “Professor Nagl’s War”). And since then, he’s written thoughtful, if provocative, articles for Military Review and the Small Wars Journal Web site.
Where do our armed forces go from here?