Sgt. Leanne Duffy: With No Plan Apparent, GIs In Iraq Slowly Becoming Frantic
By Sgt. Leanne Duffy
Tuesday 23 September 2003
I am a National Guardsman of the 105th Personnel Services Detachment out of Lincoln, Neb. My unit and I are stationed in Kuwait at Camp Wolf. We were deployed Feb. 2. We arrived in Jordan in April and half of us were moved a week later to Kuwait to throw mail.
When our unit came back together in June we had an order to go home but it was revoked and we ended up replacing an active Army unit. When replacing the active unit we were told our date to go home was Dec. 1.
We now hear that we will be here for a full year. We are under 3rd Personnel Command. They say that when they decide who stays and who goes, it's not by how long soldiers have been deployed, just by unit necessity.
My unit processes incoming soldiers and helps soldiers redeploy for theater. We are doing a great job and are working hard to treat each soldier with care and consideration as they come past our desks. They have spread our 44 soldiers out to replace an active unit that had over 50 and to replace a National Guard unit that had over 60 soldiers. Not only are we running 24-hour operations seven days a week for these two units, but we have four of our soldiers on the redeployment side working validation for another unit! We are spread so thin and are working so hard that these knocks on our morale are devastating.
Yes, we are physically able to finish our mission, but mentally and spiritually we are dying.
If retention for the Army National Guard is of any importance, current members need to have faith in our government and our leaders. Right now, where we are, we can't see anyone taking a stand for the soldiers (as it isn't just us being treated this way but many, many soldiers).
This isn't a simple board game of Axis and Allies, this is a game people are playing with real people - people with families, not robots. You have college students out here (like me) missing over a year of college to sit and get yanked around without explanation. It has been told to the officers I have spoken to that 3rd PERSCOM refers to moving soldiers as "drug deals." You do this for me and I'll make sure your soldiers go home, etc.
Yes, without a doubt my duty is to serve my country despite her faults. I have learned I will not be able to get education and training services while I am here and I am accepting that. I am here to serve out of obligation and duty. What I'm wondering is if there are any checks and balances for those who are making decisions here?
Everyone keeps saying it is up in the air, including the personnel responsible for deciding who is going where. It feels as if every decision is off the cuff. In this situation there should be plans in place and decisions made before the rubber hits the road.
We are slowly becoming frantic. I hear people saying they are going to begin hurting themselves or others if they can't go home. The helplessness our soldiers are feeling is indescribable, it is past the point of "suck it up and drive on." We just want somewhere to drive on to.
Thank you for allowing me to bend your ear.
Jump to TO Features for Monday 29 September 2003