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Soldier Mom
Fire One General for Every Troop Death
Soldier Mom's Son Poses Idea for Reducing Casualty Count
By TRACEY CALDWELL 06/06/2007 11:21 AM ET
FORT STEWART, GA - MAY 17: A soldier with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division walks along Warrior's Walk before a memorial tree dedication ceremony held for five soldiers who recently died in in Iraq May 17, 2007 at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Stephen Morton/Getty
FORT STEWART, GA - MAY 17: A soldier with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division walks along Warrior's Walk before a memorial tree dedication ceremony held for five soldiers who recently died in in Iraq May 17, 2007 at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Over time, the constantly rising death toll makes it harder to maintain confidence that my son will come home safely. The other day, I was discussing with him how President Bush envisions American troops being in Iraq long-term--fifty years or more--like Korea.

I told my son I couldn't see the American people even considering a long-term presence in Iraq as long as the death toll remained so high. In Korea we don't have a hundred soldiers dying a month. My son said, "Getting the death toll down is easy. You don't want soldiers to die, you just put in a policy--a soldier dies, a general gets fired." He said with a policy like that--one dead soldier equals one fired general--not many soldiers would die.

I told him I did not see how a policy like that could work, at the rate we are losing soldiers, we would run out of generals. But my son disagreed, "No, mom, we got lots of generals. We could afford to fire a few. Besides, it would be good for the guys who want promotions. But you wouldn't see soldiers dying if generals were getting fired. They would only send us on missions where they knew we had everything we needed to be safe."

My son has settled back in at his forward operating base in Iraq. Things have been slow; they have been staying behind the wire. He has even enrolled in some online courses to fill up his time. I am glad he has the opportunity for independent study, since he has not had much time to work on his education since the war on terror began. Most of his deployments have kept him too busy.

But even more reassuring to me is, if they are staying behind the wire, then he is most likely safe. But when I talk to my friends, I start to feel a little guilty--their sons are out on missions, facing danger daily. But I know my son has been out, in danger when theirs were safe. Danger comes and goes in a war zone.

I have friend whose son is preparing for his first deployment, while she prepares herself mentally. Years ago her youngest son died in a tragic accident. She says there is no way she can handle losing another son, yet she knows that she must face that possibility. I try to reassure her--my son has been on multiple deployments and has always come home safely. But we both know there are no guarantees.

I suspect more than a few generals would object to my son's plan for reducing the death toll. We pay generals to win wars and they would probably say a policy like that would interfere with their job. I am certain generals do not intentionally endanger soldiers unnecessarily. But I, like most military families, worry about the increasing number of casualties and how long our nation can sustain such losses. A soldier's death is not just a loss for the family; it is a loss for the nation.

Tracey-Kay Caldwell is the mother of a soldier, Democratic Party Editor of BellaOnline.com, and a freelance writer. She can be reached at IraqSoldierMom@gmail.com.
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