Senate Democrats

Webb Amendment Essential for Troops and National Security

Multiple and extended deployments and rotations that keep our troops in battle longer than they are home have strained our forces and their families.  It has endangered our ability to respond to both threats abroad and disasters at home.  Senator Webb’s amendment addresses these problems, ensuring our heroes have adequate rest and training time.  Republicans must support our troops and the restoration of our military, and vote for this amendment.

Troops at Breaking Point….

Deployments Extended from 12 to 15 Months.  “Well, in other news today, there was a major announcement from the defense secretary, Robert Gates, that will affect more than 100,000 families. All active duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are gonna have their tours extended from 12 to 15 months.”  [ABC, 4/11/07]

Time Home Between Deployments Decreasing.  “Gen. James Conway said the service is unable to meet its goal of giving Marines twice as much time at home as in a war zone. …Typically, however, they get only seven or eight months home before being returned to combat, he said.”  [CNN, 11/22/06]

Extended and Repeated Deployments Increase Mental Problems. “The detailed mental health survey of troops in Iraq released by the Pentagon on Friday highlights a growing worry for the United States as it struggles to bring order to Baghdad: the high level of combat stress suffered during lengthy and repeated tours.  …The military’s report, which drew on that survey as well as interviews with commanders and focus groups, found that longer deployments increased the risk of psychological problems…”  [New York Times, 5/6/07]

Army Physiologist Col. Castro Says Time Home Essential; Current Rotations are Unprecedented. “At no time in our military history have soldiers or Marines been required to serve on the front line in any war for a period of six-seven months, let alone a year, without a significant break in order to recover from the physical, psychological and emotional demands,’ Castro wrote in the study.” [Army Times, 6/19/07]

Troops’ Families Also Stretched Thin….

Soldiers Kept From Newborns.  “That means Capt. Joshua Simer, 31, will not make it back to St. Paul in time to see his daughter, Amy, gobble her first birthday cake in May. He missed her birth as well, and her first smile.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/07]

Troops Missing Out on Birthdays, Anniversaries.  “The thought of sending out holiday photos showing the girls in wide smiles and pigtails, but with the absence of the man in their lives painfully obvious, seems heart-wrenching, but Tywila Walker said it was just another day in dealing with her husband’s third deployment to Iraq since 2003… ‘He missed everybody’s birthday and our anniversary,’ including Kamya’s first birthday, she said.’” [Beaufort (SC) Gazette, 12/23/06]

Wives Describe Disorders, Divorces on Internet Blogs.  “Internet blogs written by soldiers or their wives tell of suicide attempts by soldiers haunted by combat, civilian careers of reservists who’ve been harmed by deployment and redeployment, and marriages broken by distance and the trauma of war.”  [Charlotte (NC) Observer, 12/10/06]

….As a Result, Troops Leaving Military at Increased Levels

Mid-Grade Sergeants Leaving Military at Higher Rates. “Fewer mid-grade sergeants are opting to stay in the Army as many face yet another deployment to Iraq – and, more important, Army officials say, less time at home.” [Christian Science Monitor, 5/2/07]

West Point Graduates’ Attrition Rates Significantly Increasing. “Take the number of West Point graduates who are voting with their feet after their five year commitment is up. Forty-six percent from the class of 2001 decided to get out and 54 percent from the class of 2000. That’s up significantly from the average of 10 to 30 percent. And it amounts to a brain drain of captains, many who have served multiple combat tours and may have burned out.” [CNN, 4/14/07]

Rotation and Deployment Policies Limit Training and Manpower, Endangering Ability to Respond to Potential Threats….

Lacking Manpower, the “Ready Brigade” Unable to Respond Rapidly. “For the first time in decades, the Army’s ‘ready brigade’ – a unit of the famed 82nd Airborne Division primed to parachute into a hot spot anywhere in the world within 72 hours – is a luxury the U.S. Army cannot afford.  All its forces are already dedicated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” [Time, 4/9/07]

Military Lacks Manpower to Respond Quickly to Potential Threats. “Pentagon officials worry that among the just over 20 Army brigades left in the United States or at Army bases in Europe and Asia, none has enough equipment and manpower to be sent quickly into combat, except for an armored unit stationed permanently in South Korea, several senior Army officers said.” [New York Times, 3/20/07]

General Conway Concerned about Lack of Training.  “I think my largest concern, probably, has to do with training.  When we’re home for that seven, eight, nine months, our focus is going back to Iraq.  And as I mentioned in the opening statement, therefore, we’re not doing amphibious training, we’re not doing mountain-warfare training, we’re not doing combined-arm fire maneuver, such as would need to be the case, potentially, in another type of contingency.”  [General Conway, Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/15/07]

General Cody Warns of Declining Readiness.  “The readiness continues to decline of our next-to-deploy forces…  And those forces, by the way are…also your strategic reserve.” [General Cody, Testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, 3/13/07]

Policies Also Endanger National Guard’s Ability to Respond to Disasters at Home….

Discussing the Greensburg Tornado, Head of Kansas National Guard Says Troops and Equipment are Stretched Thin. “Major General Tod Bunting says the equipment is not the only thing getting worn out – so are the troops. Bunting says the Guard’s equipment is not being replaced quickly enough and that about 800 soldiers will stay in Iraq for now…some of them in their fourth tour.” [AP, 4/10/07]

Lt. General Blum Says We Are at Risk at Home.  “We are now in a degraded state back here at home… The ability for the National Guard to respond to natural disasters and to perhaps terrorist weapons-of-mass-destruction events that may come to our homeland is at risk because we are significantly under-equipped.” [Detroit News, 3/31/07]

….These are the Reasons Why Veterans’ Groups Endorsed Webb Amendment

Military Officers Association of America.  “On behalf of the 368,000 members of MOAA, I am writing to express MOAA’s support for your [Sen. Webb’s] amendment that would support our military men and women by establishing standards for dwell time between consecutive operational deployments.” [Letter to Senator Jim Webb, Military Officers Association of America, 7/10/07]

Veterans for America.  “Veterans for America has visited every major demobilization site in the United States.  We can say with confidence that inadequate dwell time for our men and women in uniform is compounding the wounds of war.  ….Veterans for America strongly supports the Webb-Hagel amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.” [Veterans for America]

Vote Vets.Org. “America’s top political group of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans today endorsed a measure being introduced by Senator James Webb, which would guarantee troops being sent into harm’s way are properly prepared and rested.” [Vote Vets.Org, 7/9/07]