Want some evidence of how personnel shortages is affecting the military, look no further than this:
When four American soldiers, two dressed in Iraqi mufti and not uniforms, appeared at the Al-Janabi farmhouse on the afternoon of March 12, 2006, they were not entirely unexpected. Abeer had told her mother that some of the Americans at the checkpoint were being sexually aggressive toward her and her mother, fearing for her safety, had been making her stay home.
Among the soldiers entering the house was Private First Class Steven Green, a 21-year-old boy-man and petulant loner with a history of drug and alcohol problems and a petty criminal record back in Midland, the titular home of the Bush family in Texas oil patch country.
Green had been in Iraq for only a few weeks when he was found to have "homicidal ideations" when he was sent to an Army Combat Stress team on December 21, 2005. Nevertheless, he was sent back into combat.
In February 2006, Green matter-of-factly told a reporter for Stars & Stripes that he had come to Iraq "because I wanted to kill people" and bragged that he had "shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing. Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza'."
And then it gets worse:
According to an affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent Frank Charles and other accounts, on the evening of March 11, Green talked up the idea of going to Abeer's house and raping her. Then, on the following morning, he and several buddies played cards and got drunk on black market Iraqi whiskey, a violation of war-zone policy.
After hitting some golf balls behind the checkpoint, an intoxicated Green again brought up the idea of raping Abeer, changed into Iraqi civilian clothing and made arrangements for a buddy to monitor the radio at the checkpoint so he and his confederates could go "kill and hurt a lot of Iraqis."
Once at Abeer's house Green herded her father, mother and Hadil, her 7-year-old sister, into a bedroom. Abeer’s brothers, Ahmad and Muhammad, were at school.
Green shot the father several times in the head, the mother several times in the abdomen and the sister several times in the head and shoulder with an AK-47 that the family was legally allowed to keep in the house, proudly announcing to his buddies, "I just killed them, all are dead."
Green then turned on Abeer, whom U.S. officials initially claimed was 20 or 25. As if that justified what happened next.
Abeer's dressing gown and bra were torn from her body and her legs tied. Green and two other soldiers then took turns raping her. By the time they had finished, blood was flowing from her vagina. Green then shot Abeer in the head two or three times, threw a blanket over her torso and set the family's bodies afire in a crude effort to cover up the atrocity.
And how has he been treated?
Steven Green will spend Abeer’s 15th birthday in a federal lockup in Kentucky as he awaits trial for the rape-murders. He has pleaded not guilty.
Green’s behavior had become so problematic by May 2006 that the Army sent him home on the grounds that he had an "anti-social personality disorder," but nevertheless gve him a regular discharge.
The war has had such a deleterious effect on the Army that it has repeatedly been forced to lower its recruiting standards and has granted an increasing number of waivers to recruits with criminal backgrounds like Steven Green.
By any measure, Green was unfit to wear an Army uniform, but he not only was fast-tracked through basic training and sent off to Iraq, his readily obvious homicidal tendencies were merely acknowledged and dealt with by medication, "Atta boys" and pats on the back as he was repeatedly sent back into the hell hole that is Mahmoudiyah.
It wasn’t likely that Green would trigger something awful while he was in Iraq, it was inevitable, and the war was a perfect crucible: Not enough troops, vague and changing rules of engagement, negligible efforts to win over an occupied people, and an Army mental-health system that betrays its own soldiers just as their president has betrayed them and his country.
The blood that coursed from between Abeer Qassim Hamza's legs after she was raped is on Steven Green’s hands. But it is on George Bush’s hands as well, and neither will ever be able to wash it off.