Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Walter Reed claims more victims

The Army surgeon general, Kevin Kiley, is the latest casualty of the Walter Reed scandal, choosing to retire under pressure from lawmakers and the acting secretary of the Army, Pete Geren.

The move comes the same day the Army inspector general released a report criticizing the Army's system for evaluating and caring for wounded soldiers, calling it understaffed, undertrained and overwhelmed by the number of wounded. Some of the examples given were surreal -- such as a care facility that lacked wheelchair access.

It's worth noting that the report was ordered back in April 2006, an indication that the Army was aware of and addressing some problems nearly a year before the current scandal broke. On the other hand, it makes the reaction of senior Army brass even more inexplicable. How could they downplay problems when they already knew about many of them? And the fact that the report took a year to produce indicates the military bureaucracy still does not have a wartime sense of urgency.

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