Soldiers and caribou can both go to hell
Boot camp? Yeah. Initial training in your career specialty? Sure. Anything else will be turned down. Sadly, our soldiers will go to war with a minimum of training if they're headed out in the next six months.
Because the Guard doesn't have the money. The Guard is operating on a skeleton budget since October 1st (the beginning of the new fiscal year) because Congress has failed to pass a defense spending bill, which has been held up because the White House was fighting hard to prevent an anti-torture amendment. Allowing some people to commit unspeakable acts came before soldiers.
But these bills are usually passed in advance of the turning of the fiscal year, so states know how to budget their funds. Plans are made. Orders are cut. Equipment requests are approved and sent. All of this usually happens before the fiscal year arrives. This year, however, soldiers were told to hold off and wait a bit, 'cause we don't know what we're going to get or when. In other words, the hold up has been a problem since well before the end of September.
So I was happy today to find out that Bush and McCain had come to an agreement on the torture issue and the training and equipping of National Guard soldiers (and, by the way, all other soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines) could finally proceed.
But not so fast.
Today Ted Stevens decided to attach an amendment to the defense spending bill which would allow drilling in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
If there is any justice, this will be pulled from the bill. As Russ Feingold said, "Debate about the future of the Arctic Refuge is a debate about our failed energy policy and our environmental legacy, not about the funding of our men and women and uniform, and it would be grossly irresponsible to include the drilling provision in the final Defense Appropriations bill."
Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, the head of the National Guard, has already said that his troops are stretched thin and lack the necessary equipment to properly do their jobs. I'm here to tell you that training funds are also depriving those soldiers of the training they need to prepare soldiers for those jobs and, if it continues, re-enlistments will also suffer.
Republicans are holding the funding that would help prepare some of our hardest hit Army units hostage in order to serve the interests of their donors in the oil companies.
I wish they could remember what if felt like to be ashamed.