Military leaders are struggling to choose Army units to stay in Army units to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan longer or go there earlier than planned, but five years of war have made fresh troops harder to find.

Pentagon officials are trying to identify enough units to keep up to 20 brigade combat teams in Iraq. A brigade usually has about 3,500 troops.
The likely result will be extending the deployments of brigades scheduled to come home at the end of the summer, and sending others earlier than scheduled.
Final decisions — which have not yet been made — would come as Congress is considering ways to force
President Bush to wind down the war, despite his vow that he would veto such legislation.
In the freshest indication of the relentless demands for troops in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander of coalition forces in the north, told reporters Friday that his troops have picked up the pace of their attacks on the enemy in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.
“Could I use more forces? No question about it,” Mixon said, adding that he had asked for more.

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said a day earlier that it was likely that additional U.S. forces will be shifted to areas outside the capital where militants are regrouping, including Diyala. The region has become an increasingly important staging ground for militant groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq.

“There have been about 30 percent more offensive actions and attacks. Many of those are initiated by us; some are initiated by them,” Petraeus said from a military base outside of Tikrit. “I am cautiously optimistic that in the next 30 to 60 days that we’re going to see some significant differences in the security situation in Diyala.”
If not, he said, he’ll go back and ask for still more support.

Petraeus said Thursday that the U.S. buildup in Iraq would need to be sustained “for some time well beyond the summer” to garner the needed results.
Maintaining increased troop levels, said military officials, will require troops to return for what could be their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, and force military leaders to juggle the schedules to give soldiers a full 12 months at home before returning to battle.

The officials would speak only on condition of anonymity, because no final decisions have been made and no formal requests for the forces have come from commanders in Iraq. But they said it is beginning to appear likely that Petraeus will ask to maintain much of the buildup at least through the end of the year, and possibly into 2008.
One official said planners are scrambling to figure out what combination of units and schedules can be fashioned that could give Petraeus what he wants and have the least negative impact on the troops.

The complex scheduling must identify which units would have been home for 12 months and be trained and ready to go, plus whether the needed equipment would be available and what impact a schedule change has on other plans for the equipment or troops months down the road.

Combat troops, meanwhile, are coming to realize that the Pentagon can’t fulfill its commitment to give soldiers two years at home for every year they spend deployed.
At Fort Drum, N.Y., the 1st Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division is already training for a return to Iraq this summer. The brigade, which spent a year in Iraq and got home last summer, is not yet on any official list of units scheduled to deploy, but it’s likely to go in late summer.

“It’s prudent planning for us to be prepared to go back in a year,” said Fort Drum spokesman Ben Abel.

Military officials also acknowledge that units scheduled to come home later this summer — such as the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division — could be forced to extend their tours by up to 120 days to maintain the Baghdad security buildup.

Initially, the Bush plan called for sending 21,500 extra U.S. combat troops to Iraq — mainly to Baghdad — with the last of five brigades arriving by June. So far two of the brigades have arrived in Iraq. The latest estimates indicate that up 7,000 support troops may also be needed, including more than 2,000 military police.
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
Associated Press Writer Pauline Jelinek contributed to this report



Between 2003 and Feb 3rd 2007…. 3190 US solders have been confirmed dead!

32,544 ….have been wounded or killed!




Veterans face serious inequities in compensation for disabilities depending on where they live and whether they were on active duty or were members of the National Guard or the Reserve, an analysis by The New York Times has found.
Those factors determine whether some soldiers wait nearly twice as long to get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs as others, and collect less money, according to agency figures.

“The V.A. is supposed to provide uniform and fair treatment to all,” said Steve Robinson, the director of veteran affairs for Veterans for America. “Instead, the places and services giving the most are getting the least.”

The agency said it was trying to ease the backlog and address disparities by hiring more claims workers, authorizing more overtime and adding claims development centers.
The problems partly stem from the agency’s inability to prepare for predictable surges in demand from certain states or certain categories of service members, say advocates and former department officials. Numerous government reports have highlighted the agency’s backlog of disability claims and called for improvements in shifting resources.

“It’s Actuary Science 101,” said Paul Sullivan, who until last March monitored data on returning veterans for the V.A. “When 5,000 new troops get deployed from California, you can logically expect a percent of them will show up at the V.A. in California in a year with predictable types of problems.”

“It makes no sense to wait until the troop is already back home to start preparing for them,” Mr. Sullivan said. “But that’s what the V.A. does.”

Veterans’ advocates say the types of bureaucratic obstacles recently disclosed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are eclipsed by those at the Veterans Affairs division that is supposed to pay soldiers for service-related ills. The influx of veterans from the Iraq war has nearly overwhelmed an agency already struggling to meet the health care, disability payment and pension needs of more than three million veterans.

Stephen Meskin, who retired last year as the V.A.’s chief actuary, said he had repeatedly urged agency managers to track data so they could better meet the needs of former soldiers. “Where are the new vets showing up?” Mr. Meskin said he kept asking. “They just shrugged.”

Agency officials say they have begun an aggressive oversight effort to determine if all disability claims are being properly processed and contracted for a study that will examine state-by-state differences in average disability compensation payments.

“V.A.’s focus is to assure consistent application of the regulations governing V.A. disability determinations in all states,” the department said in a written statement.
Many new veterans say they are often left waiting for months or years, wondering if they will be taken care of.

…excerpts taken fron the Washington Post…

MY Step-Father who will be 89 March 14th…has still not been received funds for fighting in WWII. Quoting him, “WE have waited 43 years {1945-1988} to be recognized as part of the armed forces. We have never been given any benefits and our Banch had the highest rate of causalities of any Branch in the war [over 30% more]. …they are giving millions and millions to people over seas who HATE our guts and we get and have gotten nothing! Hell, we paid for our own uniforms, and transportation, if we were able to go home, we did it out of sense of duty and love of our county…however, we had NO benefits like the other solders had. I could say a lot more, but it wouldn’t be fit for print!”

Congress is STILL passing a bill for those who were in the Merchant Marines…to give them some long deserved benefits…the Merchant Marines are still waiting and waiting and waiting for congress to get off their laurels…they are dying at an incredible rate, because of their age. Dying with out benefits still! V.A. and Congress you should be ashamed!

I AM ANTI-WAR! I make NO claims to be other wise! But I DO SUPPORT those who are in our armed forces. And I do feel that those who are and have done so should be taken care of and supported if the need arises. Especially the amputees. As well…for the families of those who have lost FOREVER, their loved ones.

Get off your laurels American and make it right! Viet Nam Vets are still fighting the system over a war, that should not have been. You see many of them on the corners asking for help…perhaps they should all converge on the steps of the V.A. and The White House…however, I doubt if it would do any good as we are in the 4th century of DO NOTHING V.A. benifits!

For those of you who want to help and don’t know where to turn…please go to : they are making a huge differnece in our troops that are sent home injured.

Why would any intelligent person with the knowledge that we have now, of the Goventments failure to take care of thier own and their soldiers…why would anyone enlist????

These opinions are those of the Baby Boomer Queen…she has spoken!