New York Times Editorial
Tell the Troops
Published: January 19, 2007
It is bad enough for troops in Iraq to learn that their tours of duty have been extended. It is terrible for them to have to hear about it from loved ones at home rather than from their military commanders.
This is what happened to about 150 New Jersey National Guard troops who had been scheduled to return home in March after having served in Iraq for a year. Their tours of duty were extended for up to 125 days as a result of President Bushs decision to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.
A day after Mr. Bush announced the troop increase in a televised speech, the National Guard in New Jersey told family members that their relatives would have to stay on. The news quickly made it back to the troops in Iraq through anguished phone calls and e-mail.
Not until Sunday four days after Mr. Bushs speech were the troops notified by their Army commanders, after Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey made two phone calls to Army officials.
Mr. Corzine, who had learned of the lapse from outraged family members, said that Pentagon officials expressed regret and blamed the delay on a breakdown in the chain of command on the ground in Iraq. The governor rightly called what happened unacceptable.
But given all that has gone wrong with the misguided American adventure in Iraq, the foul-up is hardly surprising. Its one more sensitive issue that has been insensitively and unfairly mishandled.