April 11th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Standing by the troops

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/13/art.blitzer.jpg caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer"](CNN) - Amidst all the discussion of the war in Iraq this week was some good news for the men and women of the U.S. Army. President Bush announced that their tours of duty in Iraq will be reduced from 15 to 12 months. Three months might not sound like a lot but having been to Iraq and having seen the conditions under which the troops serve, I can assure you that those three months can make a big difference. That new policy will begin on August 1 of this year.

It means that American soldiers heading to Iraq before August 1 will still have to serve for 15 months in the country; those deploying after August 1 will have to serve in Iraq for one year.

Once the new policy goes into effect, the soldiers also will know that they will have a year at home for every year they serve in Iraq.

“This policy is intended to give units time to properly reset and allow soldiers, families and friends to reconnect,” the Army leadership said in a joint statement sent out to all soldiers. It was signed by the Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, the Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Kenneth Preston.

“You have chosen a most noble profession,” they said. “With your families standing with you in support, you have borne the increased stress and burden of this war for our Army and our Nation. A grateful Army and Nation thank you.”

No matter what you may think about the war, I think it’s fair to say that almost everyone stands by the troops who are all professionals. They volunteered to serve their country and they’re trying to do the best they can under extremely dangerous circumstances. We worry about them. We wish them only the best.

- Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Angus McDugan

    I still say... We should have taken Sadom and his sons out of power then left. This would allow our Saudi friends 😉 to clean up the mess (I mean ensure stability in the region) needed so that they could sell us their oil.

    April 11, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. I'm Just Sayin'....


    April 11, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. rdbtwthlins

    A fine war president that keeps the soldier's, as well as the country's, needs at heart..

    April 11, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Can you say "DRAFT"

    Because that is where we headed. our army cannot sustain this without being able to get more recruits, and that is not proving an easy thing to do. I believe we will be years getting out of Iraq no matter who wins in Nov. and we are simply moving into somewhere else, not coming home then.

    April 11, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. RFP

    This is great. The less time our troops need to spend over there the better.

    April 11, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. NickNas

    Take this from a Veteran who served in Combat for this nation. They will be FAR more happy when they are told they are comming home FOR GOOD!

    April 11, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Gary

    The announcemnt was for Active Duty troops only. What it means is that The Reserves and National Guard will be picking up the slack. This is election year posturing at it's worst.

    April 11, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Bill

    This is shameful. When our leaders in congress vote for war the draft should be automatically be put into action. Let the families, and neighbors of those who choose war take an active role in it. Perhaps we would not be in this situation. Volunteer, or not , those serving our country now have borne way too much burden in this.

    April 11, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Jim

    Angus McDugan for president!!!!!!! This man speaks for America.

    April 11, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. kp

    You want to stand for the troops? Get them the hell out of harms way. This is a war that should of never been fought. Why are we playing politics with our soldiers lives. The damage from this missguided war will cripple individuals and our country for years to come.

    April 11, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. An Agnostic Democrat

    Maybe you should have wished them the best BEFORE you marched in lockstep with the Bush administration and sent them off to a senseless and unnecessary war? Nice way of diverting attention from the fact that the MSM didn't question one thing about Iraq because the weren't doing their jobs as journalists and were so scared of being viewed as unpatriotic (but appeared more like idiotic if you ask me). Thanks you for your complicity, Wolf and Company.

    April 11, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Tanya K

    Bush should be ordered to go there for 15 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. jonesy

    Big media (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc) were the big cheerleaders during the run up to the war. Hard questions were not asked, instead they resorted to be being a shadow PR firm for the Pentagon.
    Stories of bravery, graphics of battle lines, imbedded reporters, shock and awe (remember that?) were the news headlines, not serious analysis or hard questions. "Excuse me, do we have a plan here ?"
    "What is the plan for reconstruction, rebuilding, infrastructure, funding, etc" Retired generals got a full employment plan out of the networks as they trotted them out with 'military analysis'
    What a crock. Thanks CNN for nuthin, and NUTS to you TV people

    April 11, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Ruth

    We can't win. Bring the troops home. Leave the Clintons alone. You people are as bad as Rush Limbaugh. Ditto Heads.

    April 11, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Craig- Hastings, MN

    Nice PR trick with yet more smoke and mirrors. Let's see. In Iraq prior to August 1st. Sorry folks but you are SOL. It's 15 months for you. After August 1st it's 12 months but that means no Bush when you are SUPPOSED to be going HOME. Someone else in the WH and NO guarantee you WILL be going home. More snake oil from the head chimp and his lackeys.

    April 11, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Dave

    I'm curious on how this plays out. When they say 12months deployed that actual means in theatre right? Isn't there a prep time? I thought they would get activated/called up and sent to a training location for several months before they actually go to the middle east. Is this included in the 12 month rotation or is that in addition to? Also, is the army giving them more or a relaxed schedule when they do get back from combat? If they have to leave home and training for several months and then go to war for 12 months then get back and have to continue the army routine nonstop for the remaining 9 months still seems like an immense burden. Can someone fill me in? Is that how it works? Guess that's why it's the army 🙂

    April 11, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Fred

    I have a nephew that has served two 15 month terms in IRAQ. This is great news for him and his family. In his time in the military he has fathered two sons and buried his grandfather and father.
    I have a son-in-law who will be leaving for his third tour in October. His two young sons are strangers to him.
    I have a daughter who is currently in basic training, this is great news for her and her two young sons. She joined the military to ensure her two sons have medical insurance she could not provide as a civilian.
    For each of these family members, their spouses and children would much rather have them at home, safe and sound for now and always; but the prospect of a reduced tour and one year at home is a gift they will accept with graciously.
    Whether the policy comes from the sitting administration, or a future administration is irrelevant to the families whose lives are disrupted while their loved ones serve this great nation.

    April 11, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. The Grey One

    "Bring the boys back home! BRING THE BOYS BACK HOME!! Don't leave the children on their own NO NO! BRING THE BOYS BACK HOME!!" –Roger Waters

    When there is a mess that we caused by being there, staying there is not the solution, it only exasperates the problem . Think about all the kids who are not seeing their dads, all the husbands who are not seeing their wives, not to mention the 4000 that have already died. We need to leave this country to themselves.

    April 11, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Urbanite

    Wow, after all this, Bush cuts off 3 whole months. What a great guy...

    April 11, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Between the lines

    Notice it says give 'units' 12 months at home. It says nothing of the soldiers that return to the states, PCS (which means to change duty stations), and redeploy months after getting home. It happens, but the 'unit' downtime requirement is met. It's not applicable to the individual soldier.
    Sorry if I let the cat out of the bag... I'd hate to ruin the 'spin' on a ridiculous situation. How dare we give people making 'horrible' decisions credit because they've improved to simply 'bad'? How dare they speak on behalf of a nation they ignore when the nation says bring the soldiers home? War was once considered the extension of politics, but now the war itself seems to be self-serving. The reasons for war keep changing? Why did we go in the first place? Why did we stay? Why are we still there? What will it take for us to leave?

    ... Why do all of those questions have different answers? This war has become an uncontrollable beast that manifests new justifications for its own existence. Everyone knows it by now, but complacency and disenfranchised apathy continue to settle. We just accept this abusive, law-transcending and publically numb policy as a sad fact of this game show-esque administration and hope the next contestant can get the answer right.

    April 11, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Ratgurl

    It will be surprising if there is not a new "surge" before August 1st, so the government can bleed every drop of blood they can from our soldiers. Why not instill the new rules on May1st? Or June 1st?

    April 11, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. Henry

    The reality is that we are there,whether we like it or not. It is unrealistic to think we can roll into another country,blow it up and not stick around to help rebuild it, it's goverment and help it's people for a better quality of life. Knowing all this, and knowing are troops are there and will be there for a while to come, I believe it is a brilliant idea to have troops do 12 month tours,rather than 15month tours.

    April 11, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Grif

    i don't think it's how many comments, or how fast. So it must be the content.. Won't send any more.. Sorry thought you wanted comments on free speach.. Stiill won't send any more.....

    April 11, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. sozzi

    The People of the United States of America will also stand by thier troops. But, it's up the idiot of a president that we currently have, who has treated our troops as if they were TOY SOLDIERS. I would like to MEDIA to keep on making the PUBLIC aware of the 4,000 plus dead soldiers, the 50,000 plus severely injured soldiers, and the 500 plus soldiers who have committed suicide because of this debacle BUsh got the U.S. into.

    April 11, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Steve

    This is a farce, most of the troops are already there and are not affected by this 'new' policy rule.

    If Bush and company were real patriots, they would push for the updated GI Bill that extends greater benefits such as college to a lot of people who joined the military for that reason – to get money to go to school.

    Better yet, how about a war tax? That way we can all show how much we support the war. To date, the war in Iraq has cost just a half trillion dollars. With 110 million households in the U.S., that comes out to $4,545 for each household. Figure by the time we could eventually pull out, you can easily double that amount. Why not pay now? Let's see how great an idea this war of choice really was.

    Don't count on it, let's have the Chinese subsidize our deficit spending and let's kick it down the road for our kids to pay.

    April 11, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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