Taking the Troops for Granted

TAKING THE TROOPS FOR GRANTED….Can anyone explain this?

The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.

….Imminent danger pay, given to Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force members in combat zones, was raised to $225 from $150 a month. The family separation allowance, which goes to help military families pay rent, child care or other expenses while soldiers are away, was raised from $100 a month to $250.

Last month, the Pentagon sent Congress an interim budget report saying the extra $225 monthly for the two pay categories was costing about $25 million more a month, or $300 million for a full year. In its “appeals package” laying out its requests for cuts in pending congressional spending legislation, Pentagon officials recommended returning to the old, lower rates of special pay and said military experts would study the question of combat pay in coming months.

Putting aside partisan wrangling for a moment, this just doesn’t make sense on a whole bunch of different levels:

  • Obviously, it’s lousy PR. You start a war, your troops are in imminent danger from guerrilla attacks, it’s 120 degrees in the shade, and you decide to cut their pay.

  • It doesn’t amount to much. Rumsfeld has already testified that the occupation is costing about $4 billion a month, so $25 million is just a drop in the bucket. Specifically, it’s .6% of the cost of the occupation.

  • It hurts recruiting. It’s hard enough to sign up new recruits already for our thinly stretched army, so why do something like this?

  • It’s the wrong thing to do. Is there any doubt that the vast majority of Americans fully support the higher pay rate for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? I doubt it.

This is really inexplicable. On top of so many other things the Bush administration has done, it demonstrates a casual and uncaring attitude toward the actual people in the military that’s truly mysterious. What’s going on?

UPDATE: Bound in a Nutshell reports that the Pentagon has apparently backed down on this. Good.

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