L: Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, Chief, Army Reserve, has some harsh words to say about how the Reserve is being used/abused by the Bush administration; R: Gen. Peter Schoomaker was on the receiving end of the blistering memo.

Can you feel the draft? It’s all falling apart, and when you’ve got the head of the Army Reserve saying it’s a “broken force,” the alarms should be going off. (AP):

Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, wrote in an internal memorandum to the Army’s top uniformed officer that the Reserve has reached the point of being unable to fulfill its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and to regenerate its forces for future missions.

The Army Reserve has about 200,000 soldiers, nearly 52,000 of them on active duty for the war on terrorism, mainly in Iraq. They provide combat support, medical care, transportation, legal services and other support. About 50 have died so far in the Iraq war.

Helmly’s Dec. 20 memo is addressed to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, and was first reported in Wednesday’s editions of the Baltimore Sun, whose Web site has a link to the eight-page document. Two officials who saw the original memo confirmed its contents to The Associated Press.

The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of the Army Reserve’s inability under current policies, procedures and practices … to meet mission requirements associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” Helmly wrote, using the military’s names for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“The Army Reserve is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements,” including those in classified contingency plans for other potential wars or national emergencies, “and is rapidly degenerating into a ‘broken’ force,” Helmly wrote.

[Here’s a real holy sh*t moment… — Pam]

Helmly also referred to a practice, not previously disclosed, of requiring each Reserve soldier who receives a mobilization order with less than 30 days notice to sign a “volunteer statement.” From his brief description of the practice it appears that this is done to reduce the number of reported cases of short-notice, involuntary mobilizations. He also criticized the practice of offering Reserve soldiers an extra $1,000 a month if they volunteer to be mobilized a second time. This confuses “volunteers” with “mercenaries,” he said.

Helmly’s blunt description of these problems is the sort of internal attack that rarely becomes public, although some private defense analysts and members of Congress have openly questioned whether the strains on the Army caused by the Iraq war would eventually threaten the all-volunteer force.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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