The AP is reporting that the Pentagon is considering extending the tours of duty for 15,000 soldiers currently in Iraq. Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq sees some positives coming from the January troop surge, so he is looking at ways of keeping force numbers higher through the summer. Four ground units and one aviation combat brigade were scheduled to come home in the next few months, but they may have their tours extended by four more months if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates approves. (There really is no reason why he wouldn’t approve it, so this will probably happen). This news comes on the heels of the announcement that 15,000 more National Guard troops will be heading back to Iraq by January 2008, and in the midst of a month that looks like it could be one of the bloodiest for U.S. forces since last December.

Through April 8, forty U.S. soldiers have been killed this month. This is already almost half of the average of around 81 casualties per month for the last three months of fighting. If this pace continues, the recent high number of 112 casualties in December 2006 will be passed. The worst month of the entire war thus far was November 2004 when 137 soldiers lost their lives. If the current casualty pace for April continues, it will surpass this number as well. What I have just given you is a series of numbers, but these are not just numbers that I am talking about. They are people. People who have bravely served their country, and whether you agree or disagree with the war, I think we all can agree that fighting in any war requires bravery, and these people do not deserve to be exhausted and abused, because, political leaders are afraid to call up more troops, or end the war.

This administration has tried to fight a war on the cheap. Once again, let’s put aside for a moment all the issues involved with agreeing or disagreeing with this war, and focus on the fact that American lives are being lost because of the ineptitude of civilians who planned a war without having any knowledge of war. Some on the left talk about the crimes of the Bush administration, but how often do these people include the absolute abuse of our military system and depletion of our resources as one of these crimes? I wish we would start thinking about those 15,000 soldiers and everyone else in Iraq as real people. Consider that some of this 15,000 probably won’t come home alive from their extended deployment. Then we need to ask ourselves if the war in Iraq is really worth all the pain and bloodshed. Is it?

AP story on the 15,000 troops

Chart of U.S. casualties by month in Iraq

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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