Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Repeated and longer troop deployments

American soldiers of the 21st century are quietly making history, serving in combat longer than almost any U.S. soldiers in the nation's past, military historians say.

For many, the fighting seems without end, a fatalism increasingly shared by most Americans. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll conducted late last week found that 67% believe the U.S. will constantly have combat troops fighting somewhere in the world for at least the next 20 years.

President Obama is sending 30,000 more troops here [Afghanistan], expanding a war that by the end of 2010 will be the nation's longest.

The cycles of combat have been so long and so frequent that nearly 13,000 soldiers now have spent three to four cumulative years at war in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to Army records. About 500 GIs have spent more than four years in combat, the Army says.

"Undoubtedly this is unprecedented," says Stephen Maxner, a military historian and director of the Vietnam Center and Archive in Lubbock, Texas.

Wasn't this one of the things Obama was elected to stop?

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