One of the brothers is 20 years-old, and the other two (who are twins) are 21 years-old. All of them decided not to return to basic training after Christmas. They apparently couldn't handle the pressures of basic training, and they also weren't able to figure out on their own that, during a time of war, their Guard unit could get activated for deployment.
The article quotes the brothers as saying that the recruiter downplayed the possibility that they could end up being deployed to a combat area. Well, the possibility of being deployed had to be discussed for it to be downplayed, so they were all aware of that possibility by their own admission. Recruiter Sgt. Chris Beron has a differing view of the discussion of a possible activation and deployment.
Beron denies that. "I tell them that we are in a war, you are in a branch of the military. ... I tell them that in 13 years, I have never been deployed ... anywhere. I spend a lot of time telling them there is a possibility, but I can't guarantee it one way or the other."As to the Star Tribune's spin on the desertion factor, they manage to point out by paragraph five that Army desertions have risen by 35% in a two year span, from 2,450 in 2004 to 3,301 in 2006. It isn't until paragraph 40 (the seventh-to-the-last paragraph) that the article mentions that AWOL numbers across all branches in that same time frame were up 2%, from 5,259 to 5,361. That's about 0.2% of the roughly two-and-a-half million members of the Armed Forces. Getting a "desertions up 35%" stat out there early is a good spin on the numbers, Star Tribune; not necessarily objective or in context, but it is good spin towards your paper's bias.
Plain and simple, this story was above-the-fold on the front-page because it is not a good news story about the war. The Star Tribune, and it would appear the MSM in general, do not want to give a complete view of the war; both the good and the bad. They will defend burying any good news stories deep in the paper (if they print them at all) by saying that they can't be rah-rahing the victories because they need to protect their sacrosanct journalistic integrity. The bad stories on the front-page, however, are defended by saying that they must show the full picture of the war, warts and all.
Just to give a few examples, here are five stories involving the Minnesota National Guard that I don't remember seeing as above-the-fold front-page stories in the Star Tribune this year.
Insurgents' torture house found – three captives freed (24 January 2007)Minnesota National Guard members rescuing three Iraqis who had been held captive and tortured by terrorists is not front-page news. Minnesota Air National Guard members helping to test and deploy new ammunition that improves pilot safety and reduces collateral damage is not front-page news. Minnesota National Guard members helping to improve the health and quality of life for average Iraqis with a new water-treatment plant is not front-page news. Minnesota National Guard members improving the safety and quality of life of average Iraqis with restored roadways is not front-page news. Minnesota National Guard members training new Iraqi police officers so that they can handle the security of their country by themselves is not front-page news.Coalition force members discovered a building with blood-stained walls in southeast of Fallujah Jan. 22 and rescued three Iraqis found shackled inside.
One of the victims was so badly beaten he had broken limbs. He was examined and quickly evacuated by Coalition forces to receive life-saving medical care.
During their patrol, Soldiers from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment discovered multiple weapons caches in other nearby houses early this morning while conducting intelligence-driven searches. The discovery included a mortar targeting system and a sniper rifle with scope, as well as a Bongo truck with a mounted anti-aircraft gun and another vehicle rigged as a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
"This is a perfect example of how information can save lives," said Coalition spokesman Major Alan F. Crouch. "More often it's the Iraqi Army and police who use this information to help people, but the Coalition Forces will always be glad to use tips and information we receive to help civilians."
The Guardsman from Minnesota also detained four suspects in one house and six suspects in another house. The suspects have been moved to a nearby base for questioning.
Once the bound hostages were rescued from the house with the blood-stained walls, the suspected "torture house" was destroyed by Coalition forces.
There were no other civilian, Iraqi security forces or Coalition force casualties reported.
New ammo improves pilot safety, reduces collateral damage (06 March 2007)Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing here are employing a new 20mm cannon round in their M61/A1 Gatling guns for the first time, improving pilot safety while reducing collateral damage.
Airmen first validated the rounds at a firing range and then employed them in battle at the end of February. [...]
The weapons crew and ammo Airmen are a diverse group of members deploying from throughout the world -- Aviano Air Base, Italy; Misawa AB, Japan; Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.; Syracuse ANGB, N.Y.; Duluth ANGB, Minn.; and Joint Reserve Base Ellington Field, Houston, Texas.
"Our ammo and weapons loader personnel are just phenomenal," said Lt. Col. Patrick Kumashiro, the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Group deputy commander. "Ours is a total force team effort, and they managed to get our F-16s loaded within an amazing 48 hours of the ammo's arrival."
Capt. George Watkins and 1st Lt. David Bennett, both from the 510th EFS here, made up the first two-ship combat mission to use the new cannon rounds. The pilots worked as a team employing standard night tactics where one "sparkles" the target with infrared marker invisible to anyone not wearing night vision goggles, and the other then strafes and destroys the target.
"I'm excited to have the new ammo," Lieutenant Bennet said, "and glad to employ it to help the guys on the ground."
Captain Watkins concurs, "Protecting the guys on the ground is our No. 1 priority, and having the new ammo makes it easier and safer for us to do that."
Col. Scott Dennis commands the wing's 332nd Operations Group.
"It's critical for ground forces who call in air support to get it when they need it," Colonel Dennis said. "These new rounds certainly kick our (close-air support) effectiveness up a notch."
Team opens sixth water plant (09 March 2007)Children, community leaders and Coalition Forces attended the opening of a reverse osmosis water-treatment plant in Al Kuaam, Iraq, a small rural farming village of 2,000 people on the south bank of the Euphrates River, Feb. 18.
"We all know how important clean water is to public health, agriculture, and economic development," said Lt. Col. Larry Herke, chief of staff for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division.
"The water treatment plant is a great example of the Iraqi Government making progress to restore basic services to the people of Iraq," said Herke. [...]
"The plant is capable of providing 20,000 liters of water an hour," said Capt. Colin Fleming, deputy civil military operations officer.
The 20,000 liters of water an hour is more than enough water for Al Kuaam. The plant can now provide enough clean water for more than 150,000 people. [...]
The Al Kuaam plant is the sixth of its kind opened during the deployment of the 1/34 BCT.
Minnesota National Guard improves roadways (12 April 2007)Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers and Iraqi citizens of Al Batha recently restored 15 kilometers of Al Batha city streets in southern Iraq.
The soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division's civil military operations team supervised projects to grade the city's streets, which had not been repaired in the last 20 years. Most of the streets were nothing more than dirt trails with deep ruts from vehicle traffic.
Since April 1, 2006, south-central Iraq has seen improvement of more than 540 kilometers of roadways through a highway maintenance program employing local workers to clean up highways. The program removed debris along highways to provide routes safe from road-side bombs for civilian traffic and Coalition Forces.
After more than one year in Iraq, more than 270 projects have been completed by 1/34 BCT CMO teams throughout the country to assist the provinces and gain support for Coalition Forces.
Iraqi Police eager to learn (15 April 2007)Back home in Brainerd, Minn., this Minnesota Army National Guardsman Pfc. Adam Starry tends to lawns as a landscaper. Here in this 5,000-year-old city of about 20,000 people, Starry is helping to train several Iraqi police officers.
Starry, of Company B, 194th Combined Arms Battalion, and 15 of his fellow soldiers are experiencing what it is like being an Iraqi police officer in a city that is still a hotbed of insurgent activity. They form a police transition team whose task is to train the Iraqi police on how to take control of their own communities and maintain order. Training includes learning basic organizational skills, leadership mentoring and patrolling techniques.
Starry, who said he gets an adrenaline rush every time he goes on a patrol, admitted that working with the Iraqi police can be frustrating at times because of the language barrier. However, the young law-enforcement officers seem eager to learn.
"It is definitely inspiring and exciting," he said. "They amaze me more and more each day."
Yet, for the Star Tribune, a piece about three moronic brothers from northern Minnesota who enlisted in the National Guard and then went AWOL from basic training is front-page news.
Don't look now, Star Tribune, but your bias is showing.
USMC 9971 OUT