DEADLIEST "FRIEDMAN UNIT" YET.

DEADLIEST "FRIEDMAN UNIT" YET. Sadly, it's official: With eight days still to go, May 2007 caps the deadliest six-month period for America of the entire Iraq war -- 540 dead, and counting. May also ends the first six-month period during which at least 80 American service personnel (never mind contractors) died every single month. It's been quite a Friedman Unit. Hopefully, there won't be another fatality the remainder of May; but if the pace continues at the present rate, April and May will also become the first back-to-back triple-digit fatality months.

One of the young men who died this month, last Friday to be exact, was Army Specialist Casey Nash of Essex, a blue-collar, working-class community east of Baltimore. He was, in many respects, the prototypical soldier: a young, working-class kid who joined the Army almost straight out of high school. After one extended, 15-month tour, he was recently sent back to Iraq a second time because the Army also extended his service contract beyond Nash's original, 4-year commitment. Nash was home just a few weeks ago, before his second deployment. He spent his leave fixing his sister's car and watching sports with his dad, who confirms that his son "didn't want to be [in Iraq] anymore." (Q: Where are all the war supporters who howled at the handful of conscientious objectors who refused to honor their military contracts when the Defense Department breaks its end of these same contracts?)

The surge is not working, and now President Bush wants to add even more troops? There was an appropriate time for more troops, Mr. Hand-My-Helmet-To-Some-Working-Class-Kid: It was March 2003. Closing the barn door after the horses are out only gets people like Casey Nash -- the age cohort of the president's daughters -- sent into the grinder.

--Tom Schaller

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