First off, remember the problems at Walter Reed, as reported by the Washington Post a few days back? (If not, here's part one and part two of the story.)
Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.
Well, how is the Pentagon dealing with the Soldiers' complaints about conditions at Walter Reed? Why, by having daily inspections at 0700 and forbidding them to talk to the media, of course!
According to the Army Times report:
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.
"Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media," one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Some of the other actions listed in the piece may make sense. Moving the troops to a different building would be smart, assuming it's in better shape than the roach motel of Building 18. And putting healthy NCOs in charge of the Medical Hold Unit (instead of folks waiting on psych holds) just seems obvious. OTOH, preventing press access smells of coverup rather than effective leadership.
Meanwhile, at least two brigades of troops being "surged" to Iraq are not getting their refresher training at the National Training Center first:
Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases.
Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question the switch, wondering whether it means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to prepare them for the challenges of Iraq.
Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on yearlong tours.
"You would like everybody to go through" the training center, but in this case it is not possible, Brig. Gen. Tom Maffey, director of Army training, told a news conference at the Pentagon on Tuesday. He said the soldiers are losing very little by not going to Fort Irwin.
Yah. Sure. Tell me another one, BG. All they're losing is the live-fire, and the desert conditions, and the full-time OPFOR. "Very little" indeed.