Admiral: More Time At Home

Admiral: More Time At Home
March 11th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Admiral: More Time At Home

Admiral: More Time At Home
Colorado Springs Gazette
March 11, 2008
Pg. 3
Top military officer urges shorter deployments, but adds that the war is going to last a long time
By Tom Roeder, The Gazette
The military’s top officer toured bases in Colorado Springs on Monday, calling for shorter deployments and more break time for soldiers.
But Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered few hints on whether he’ll recommend an Iraq drawdown that could reduce stress on the Army and give soldiers more time at home.
Mullen started his day at the headquarters of U.S. Northern Command, where he met with top leaders and held a brief question-and-answer session with the troops.
In the afternoon, the admiral hung out with dusty Fort Carson soldiers amid a two-week training exercise.
At an earlier news conference, Mullen decried the frequent and long tours soldiers face in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We need to get our deployments down from 15 months to 12 months,” Mullen said.
Mullen, while not offering a plan to fix the situation, also said troops need more time at home with their families.
“We’ve got to create some headroom for them right now,” he said.
That “headroom” would likely come from a drawdown of forces in Iraq, where 135,000 troops are now serving. More than 4,000 of those troops are from Fort Carson.
Mullen was in Iraq two weeks ago and expressed optimism about the future there. He said attacks have dropped in Baghdad since an American surge of reinforcements began last year. But he made it clear that he won’t recommend a drawdown so steep that it would destabilize the country.
“The security we have created has to be sustained,” he said
In Mullen’s role as the president’s senior military adviser, his thoughts on troop levels in Iraq could carry real weight in Washington.
But he’s not talking about what he’ll tell President Bush, calling White House discussions “private.”
One thing Mullen made clear: He’s wary of Army decisions to send troops deemed unfit for combat to Iraq, where they’re filling desk jobs.
The issue made headlines in January because Fort Carson’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, sent dozens of soldiers deemed nondeployable for medical reasons to the Middle East, where they’re in noncombat jobs.
“My view is we shouldn’t send anyone to the fight who shouldn’t be there,” he said.
But troops should dig in for years more of war, Mullen told Northern Command workers:
“We need to keep in mind not only that we are at war but that we’re going to be at war for a long time.”

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