Saturday, January 06, 2007

A dirge, not a surge

It's no surprise to anyone that the military is having trouble with recruitment and retention, but little did we realize how bad things have become. Under the headline "US Army urges dead to re-enlist," the BBC reports:

"The US Army is to apologise to the families of officers killed or wounded in action who were sent letters urging them to return to active duty. The letters were sent to more than 5,100 Army officers listed as recently having left the military. But this figure included about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action. "
Apparently the Army used an old mailing list rather than one that had recently been updated to reflect casualties.

This is just the latest in a series of events that seems to be causing members of the military to abandon the Republican party in droves. In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Rosa Parks reports that:
"The Military Times released its annual poll of active-duty service members, and the results showed something virtually unprecedented: a one-year decline of 10 percentage points in the number of military personnel identifying themselves as Republicans. In the 2004 poll, the percentage of military respondents who characterized themselves as Republicans stood at 60%. By the end of 2005, that had dropped to 56%. And by the end of 2006, the percentage of military Republicans plummeted to 46%.

"...Although the reasons for the recent military flight from the Republican Party can only be guessed at, it's a safe bet that disgust at Bush administration bungling in Iraq is the single biggest factor."
This reverses a trend that started more than three decades ago. By 1996, for example, 70% of all military officers identified themselves as Republicans, compared to just 34% of the general population. As Parks states, "the U.S. military began to look like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party."

There's abundant evidence that the freefall in military support for the GOP may accelerate in the face of Bush's determination to continue his present Iraq policy, with a few public-relations makeovers, for the next twenty-four months.

[Note once again the British spelling of "apologise" in the BBC quote. Perhaps, with time, the Brits will learn the proper use of the language we share.]

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