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Give Fighting Forces A Fighting Chance

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
As we learn that more American troops are going to be deployed in Baghdad, we worry about them for good reason.

Evidence is mounting that the war is taking a toll on the readiness of the troops. It's at its lowest level in a number of years, and the effects are being felt in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as at home.

Training has suffered because of lack of equipment and qualified personnel. We read of a terrible example in the Duluth News Tribune: A Wisconsin National Guard soldier told his father of the abysmal training he received at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. His instructors argued openly about field tactics. His unit was sent to the firing range without proper instruction. There weren't enough vehicles to practice maneuvers.

The young man was killed just three days after he arrived in Iraq.

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Note to Don Rumsfeld: If we're going to ask these men to fight, at least give them a fighting chance.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith