Military Strapped, General Angry
Shameful. Because President Bush’s 2005 budget didn’t include any spending for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military will run out of funding at the end of September unless Bush requests a supplemental appropriation.
Now, this is an important story, and shows the depths of dishonesty to which this administration will sink when it comes to cooking the books. Or maybe it’s just incompetence. Congress approved two administration requests last year totalling nearly $166 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, which were _not_ popular — especially that $87 billion Bush asked for. The president is going to have to come back and ask for more money, and if he waits until the end of September that won’t go down well with the voters. Joshua Bolten, the White House budget director, said a supplemental bill could be as much as $50 billion.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the Army is spending $3.7 billion a month in Iraq and $900 million a month in Afghanistan.
But the most interesting part of the story came when committee chairman Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked the joint chiefs if they had any doubts about the intelligence they had before the war. The story says, “Three said they still support the decision to go to war, in spite of questions being raised about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time U.S. troops invaded.”
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper and Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, all said they supported going to war despite doubts about the intelligence regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Gen. Schoomaker didn’t “address the issue,” the story says.
That’s interesting. The general in charge of the branch that’s taking it on the chin in Iraq declines to state he supports his commander-in-chief’s decision to go to war? He wasn’t on active duty at the time, yes, but if he supports the decision, he wouldn’t be criticized for saying, “I wasn’t on active duty when we went to war, but I support the decision now that I’m in charge of the Army.” No one in the White House would fault him for that. But he can’t criticize his commander-in-chief, even implicitly; it’s not allowed under Title 10, Section 888, Article 88 of the U.S. Code.
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
So rather than risk court-martial or a demand for his resignation, he shuts up, begs off. I think with the lack of financial support from the White House, and the less than full-throated defense of the president’s policies from one of his joint chiefs, Bush has made some enemies in the services.
Hardly surprising. To date, one U.S. soldier is missing and 535 are dead in Iraq. Exactly 100 have died in Afghanistan. More than 2,600 soldiers have been wounded, and that number is likely much higher. Most of those casualties have been U.S. Army, and now the Bush White House forces the Armed services to dip into their maintenance and modernizing funds to fight two hot wars? That maintenance and modernizing money is used to replace old weapons with new ones. It’s to replace tires, boots, damaged bullet-proof vests and pay for ammunition. It’s not money for sexy, new, expensive weapons system — it’s money that keeps American soldiers alive. Schoomaker knows this, and his silence speaks volumes.