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. Thomas

    Having been a military member for over 30 years, I can tell you firsthand that Blitz is showing his ignorance of what our military people are really facing.

    True, reducing tour lengths from 15 to 12 months will mean something to our troops. But lets not take our eye off the true central issue here! Many of our young people are carrying the burden of our underprepared civilian leaders who have forced this campaign on them.

    Too many of our active duty troops are risking life and limb on multiple tours of duty under the most hostile of conditions. Doing so not only threatens their futures and those of their families but is being done in a manner that is unprecedented in our nation's history. Pick a war; WWI, WWII, Korean, Vietnam………..no group of military men and women have ever been asked to put their lives at risk………..over, and over, and over, and over, and often over again.

    Not only is our military over-stretched (as a result of poor planning and failed policy decisions of our political leadership) but the lives of our reserves and national guard men and women have been turned upside down. We never intended to make long-term use of our reserve or national guard forces. It is a blatant crime that our leadership continues to also force them into the life changing circumstances we find them in. Not only risking their lives and limbs, but also their homes future economic stability as a result of lost income and jobs.

    Wake up Blitz! Yes, a three-month reduction in tour lengths will be welcomed by our troops. But let's face reality! Let's start giving the appropriate degree of media attention the sacrifice of our military men and women. Many of their lives will be irreversibly changed as a result of the decisions of our political leaders. All while those who make these decisions continue to live their charmed, luxurious lives.

    I would bet one year of my military retirement that you lack the courage or intestinal fortitude to display this e-mail on your website.

    April 11, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Stacy Clarks, TX


    As much as I love CNN, and im not all about blaming the media, but to be fair, the media added to the hype of this war in the beginning, and had the country believe it was the best course of action.

    April 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. John Smith

    Wolf, why is it the case that Obama supporters on most of the blogs are actively trying to educate or inform Hillary supporters? Is it the case that Hillary's supporters cannot do their own research and form independent and informed opinions? Also, Hillary supportes should stop typing in "upper case letters." Please let them know that it means that they are "shouting" at their audience. We are tired of Bill pointing his fingers at us, "I never.. to that woman.."

    April 11, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Bud Curtis

    I share your sentiments completely. Our military is the finest in the world and there is no doubt in my mind that they would successfully handle any military situation.
    While I am not a great supporter of this administration, due to the way this war was waged, and its aftermath, I have nothing but the highest level of admiration and respect for our men and women in the military, and their families.
    This new policy is welcome news.
    Bud Curtis
    Miami, OK

    April 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Wayne

    America doesnt need to worry about foriegn enemies. American leadership along with the idiocy of the American voter will destroy themselves from within. We already see it. Fools can be governed effectively by fear. Check this out. They used fear to get us into Iraq. Does anyone remember Bush's mushroom cloud comment referring to Saddams supposed nuclear weapons program? Now they are using fear to KEEP us in Iraq. McCain says that if we leave there will be chaos. Riight. Sure. These are the same idiots that said we'd be greated as liberators, that Iraqi oil would pay for this venture and that it would take a short period of time. None of it was true. Also, there are those who say the war has made us safer even though Iraq had no intention of attacking us in the first place. Let me get this straight. We paid and borrowed 1 trillion dollars to keep us safe from a country that wasnt going to attack us...When you understand this, you begin to understand why this country is DOOMED. You dont need to worry about Al Qeada..you need to worry about the Al Bundy like Americans.

    April 11, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Jot

    CNN you are so baised anything about the clintons you bring it up. Why did you talk about the article where Obama's superdelegate resigned after calling black people monkeys? What are you hiding about Obama what was his religion before he was baptized by the radical Wright who hates not only America but hates Hillary personally. American poeple will not allow the media to elect a president for them shame on you CNN

    April 11, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Kris In Atlanta

    This is welcome news for my family: I have a sister, a brother, and an uncle in Iraq right now-and a young son who wants to join the Army. Wow right? I am a Democrat and will support whomever wins the nomination. With that said, Americans are not stupid. We made the right decision in 2006 by ousting the scandal-prone Republican leadership in Congress which trampled on rights and wielded power in a ruthless and corrupt manner. And now comes John McCain-a stalwart in the same group we just got rid of! There are too many issues facing America, and not all of them relate to the documented disaster that is Iraq. What direction are we heading in? Where will we be 10 or 20 years from now? Is it right that your neighbors are being foreclosed on because mortgage companies switched gears? Do you want to see your kids heading off to fight a war in some third world country? Be reasonable. Be humane. Vote Democrat. John McCain cannot solve any problems because he was instrumental in creating them in the first place.

    April 11, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. Dan

    I agree 100%. I think those conservatives who claim that if we are against the war we do not support the troops are not telling the truth. One can support the troops while simultaneously being against the war. There is a difference because the troops did not have a choice to go to war or not. That was President Bush's decision. It is their duty to obey the orders of the President. They would be in dereliction of duty if they did not follow the President's orders
    Conservatives should stop trying to link support for the war and support for the troops because they are 2 completely separate issues. If anything, the supporters of the war are not supporting the troops because they are promoting putting them in harms way when it is not necessary,

    April 11, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. charles

    Why is it that i or more americans do not here more about uniting the nation. LIKE why does other than white americans have a label on them instead on just being called americans. One nation no matter what color,race,or gender that a person comes from.Why is it that we as americans can not come to gether and just be americans. Because we are all from every nation in the world. Why we cant work for a better ammeica first???

    April 11, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Brad

    Election year trickery. This oft-repeated notion that we can't leave is preposterous. We created Al Qiaeda in Iraq just by being there. I'm so convinced that we must stay to prevent more terrorism. What a load. Oh, and the notion that we must stay to protect the Iraqis? Does that include the half million that have died as a result of our stupid decision to go in the first place? Sooner or later, America is going to start to see through Bush's crap enough to realize that we have a war criminal in the White House. 12 months vs. 15 months? A pathetic distraction from a guy who has shown contempt for our troops from day one.

    April 11, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. WH

    Hey between the lines.........don't forget too that while on that home time they are still having to attend schools, go TDY, do their regular training which for combat units can be about 6 months a year including going to NTC. All that is done in the "home" time and then when it's time to deploy again.............extra field time, extra hours at work all geared up towardes leaving again.

    Sorry people...........this is the reality of life in the military. Don't ever think that they are doing anything for the good or welfare of the families.

    One more thing.............they easily added 3 months to the tours while soldiers were already deployed. Why can't they take away the 3 month for those that deploy before August 1?

    April 11, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Fritz

    Bush's announcement of the reduction from 15 months to 12 months tours occurs on the 1-year anniversary of Defense Secretary Gates extending tours to 15 months from 12 months. The 15 month tours allowed under this administration were the longest that our Army has faced since World War II.

    This is not a "new" policy so much as it is a return to our former policy. It is hardly a surprise as to who made each announcement.

    April 11, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. alan healy

    Selfcentered BUSH

    April 11, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Joe

    Stand by our Troops. BRING THEM HOME!! Some soldiers have served FIVE TOURS in Iraq! That is insane. Mean while, Bush, Chenney, Clinton and the other crooks profit from connections to the big corporations that are makeing Billions of dollars from a war that should have ended with the death of Saddam. All we are doing in Iraq now is baby sitting. They have a military, oil dollars and an elected government. Let them alone! Vote Obama! End the war! End the twenty year Bush/Clinton Dynasty that has sent our jobs and our money to China, screwed up our economy and mismanaged the war on terror.

    April 11, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. kathe oakland, california

    Listen, the only people standing by the troops are WE THE PEOPLE – – AMERICANS. Bush/Cheny do not care about soldiers period. If they did they would have started to bring them home before now and stop all this "surge" BS. We now have over 4000 americans killed, not to mention Iraq soldiers, the innocents of Iraq and billions of dollars that should be spent right here in the USA. They want to leave whoever gets into white house with their mess and they want the American people to be so outraged they will not stop and remember
    OH YEA, BUSH/CHENY/RUMSFLED. Then Bush is totally insane anyway saying that troops after August 2008 will only serve 12 months. That is so unfair and every single AMERICAN should be up-in-arms, protesting this insane and awful protocol Bush has. What about all our soldiers who are already there, serviing perhaps their 3rd tour of duty. And Bush is the Commander-in-Chief??????? He is a very poor President and human being and I cannot wait for him to go back to Crawford!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Scott

    Hi Wolf,

    Can you clear up this issue with Bill's comment on Bosnia. Some think that this was well planned to distract from a larger more damaging issue, e.g., Bill and Penn negotiating with the Columbians. What is the truth?
    You could serve the American public well to fetter out the truth of what is going on. Is it that Bill is just a loose cannon? or was this well planned?

    April 11, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. Wayne

    We need war within our borders. People would be a lot less supportive of war.

    April 11, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  18. Ian


    You hit the nail right on the head. Remember the terror alert color coded system that they crammed down our throats during the '04 elections? What happened to that anyway?

    We are destroying ourselves from within.


    April 11, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. srshopper

    Eventually President Bush has to cut down the length of troop tour due to too much strain on the force today. Whether he likes it or not, he is kicking the Iraqi war can down the road for the next president to pick up

    April 11, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. peter

    Big donors are among Obama's backers, read the washington post article about Obama's big donors. No information here.

    April 11, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Wolf, I have been as guilty as most in these blogs to get all
    wrapped up in what I want but, really we are good people out
    here that care tremendously about our troop. Most Americans
    are wonderful people and I have realized it more in reading the
    political ticker. All we want is what is really right for our Country
    and we love, respect our troops and they need to know that.
    They get tired too, very tired. We, of course, want them home, now.
    because we love them for doing for us what we cannot do for
    ourselves. The protect us minute by minute and we need to stop.
    pause and quit this silly argueing. I wish we had a nominee so
    that American can spend their time sending our troops messages
    and good small items that they would want. Tell us what sight
    to go onto to get their wish list. Sometimes they want things
    not even for themselves but for the children in Iraq. I intend
    to find the way to send whatever they want or need. So let us
    have some information. Most of us could do some real postive
    things right now for our troop.
    Like I said, I have been all wrapped in the Democratic race. This
    is a big time for our Country and it is important to communicate,
    on your political ticker. It is good for us to vent, but I have to pray
    and trust that God will get us the right person for the job as our
    next President. All I know is things really need a drastic change,
    for our Country and above all, the troops.I can only pray for the
    will of God for us and our troops.

    April 11, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. dfd45ma

    Nephew Infantry, 2 tours Afganistan, now Iraq. Politicos, media talking heads, defense contractors et al. Thump a bible, wave a flag, trash the Bill of Rights, throw money down a hole but do not call it Troop Support.

    April 11, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  23. Travis, Los Angeles CA

    Nice article, Wolf. Lou Dobbs editorializes all day long on his show. You should do more on SR.

    April 11, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. Tejano

    I agree that America will be destroyed from within just like Rome.

    Rome was a great power until the Romans with their immense wealth began a period of Debauchery. They failed to govern and allowed the people they had conquered to become Roman citizens,
    not realizing that they had the goal of bringing down the Empire.

    Yes Rome was destroyed from within and We will suffer the same fate.

    The only thing that keeps our government from controlling all aspects of our lives is the 2nd Amendment. and the left wing democrats want to destroy our Right to Own and Bear Arms. When that happens the Socialists in Government will have full control of our lives.

    Cradle to Grave Government programs destroy personal initiative and create dependency on government that is where we have been headed for the last 50 years. That is what the Democratic party has to offer. Ask yourself who pays for it? You do with your hard earned dollars.

    April 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. Mike

    We need a smarter defense. We need to spend more on better tech and saving US lives in the battlefield. Not earmark millions to General Dynamics for outdated ammo for the bradley fight vehicle like Obama did just to appease your campaign finance chair.

    Hillary is the real choice.

    April 11, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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