Look, I'm getting really tired of this crap about recruiting. According to a friend in the Marines, it was easier for him to become a figher pilot than get into the Infantry.
If you're William Arkin of the WashPo, you think it's because of recruiting shortfalls that signal a lack of support for the war:
News of an involuntary call-up of Marine Corps reservists and a Defense Department budget so out-of-control that even the Republican Senate Budget Committee chair speaks of Congress' failure of oversight, is music to my ears.
Not because I'm some fan of a draft or because I want to see America bankrupted. But an increasing failure of the military to attract young men and women to serve and an overwhelming public rejection of the Iraq war just might finally provoke Americans to demand some real change...
The call up is because the Marines asked for Volunteers to sign up for a tour from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and didn't get enough. Of the 500,000+ military men and women who've rotated through Iraq, people are going nuts over a recall of 2,500 Marine (IRR) Reservists. There are about 59,000 Marines in the IRR.
So now the Marines call up a lot of Reservists and a few pundits are claiming it's because of a recruiting shortfall? Show me the recruiting shortfall. Come on. Where is it?
As usual, and as I've said before, the Christian Science Monitor gets it more right than the other outlets (although it depends on a lot of retired officers for criticism of the call up):
...Briefing reporters Tuesday, Col. Guy Stratton, head of Marine Corps manpower mobilization, acknowledged that "this is going to be a long war" and that there is "clearly a need" for more marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. In essence, Col. Stratton said, there have not been enough volunteers among those in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) - marines who served four years on active duty but are eligible for recall for the next four years...
And it's not a rosey picture:
...At the Pentagon and within the military services, the debate over necessary troop levels in Iraq has raged both quietly and sometimes, not so quietly, with senior officers arguing for a more robust force and Bush administration civilians wanting to reduce American forces there as soon as possible...
And it's not because of recruiting, it's because a lot of us call it "The Long War":
...Following a serious shortfall last year, the Army now predicts that it will meet its 2006 recruiting goal. But the Army, too, has had to mobilize several thousand soldiers from its ready reserves. It's also issued "stop loss" orders for several thousand troops, extending their tours in Iraq...
So the Monitor tells the truth. Are the rest of the MSM? A few claim it's a "Back-door draft", "Recruiting Shortfall", etc. Yes, there is a problem with the size of our military. It's not big enough to handle the war AND keep some semblance of a work-life balance (three tours is not a small strain on family or morale - it's a HUGE strain). Maybe if the force size was increased, there would be a recruiting shortfall. But there isn't one now.
Add to this mis-labeling of the problem with the further attempted smearing of the reputation of the US Marine Corps by the Chicago Sun Times. Smell blood in the water and increase the frenzy on recruiting problems. Notice the headline and then see how long it takes to understand the truth:
BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter
After he was charged with murder and robbery last year, Latin Kings member Jose A. Ramirez startled a federal prosecutor by saying he wanted to join the military to escape the gang life.
"I instructed him and his defense attorney we needed to resolve his charges first before he headed into the military," said Mario F. Gonzales, an assistant U.S. attorney in Milwaukee. "He felt if he went to Iraq, we would call this whole thing off. Apparently my advice did not stick in his head."
Gonzales was stunned to learn Ramirez wound up joining the U.S. Marine Corps while he was free on bond -- and was preparing to ship out to boot camp when Marine officials recently discovered he was under indictment in Milwaukee and kicked him out...
That's right, he never went to Boot Camp. HE. NEVER. MADE. IT. INTO. THE. MARINES. He never wore the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
This is the kind of media attack that ticks me the @#$% off. Address the issue and give us the facts. Instead, we get headline games.
Update: John Noonan at OpFor has more about Yellow Journalism Makes a Comeback.
Update 2: Frank Main of the Sun Times wrote me back to see about putting me in touch with the headline spinner [<- my words, not his].