Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Adam Blickstein Headshot

Reduced Deployments Will Not Repair Military

Posted: Updated:

As Gen. Petraeus admitted this week, U.S. forces are under "considerable" stress from repeated and lengthy combat missions. Our Armed Forces were already close to crisis prior to Secretary Gates' announcement last April to increase troop deployments from 12 to 15 months. With President Bush now set to announce the reduction of troop deployments back to 12 months starting this summer, it is clear that this will do little to improve troop readiness or restore America's ability to address the full spectrum of threats, both at home and abroad.

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIALS AGREE: IRAQ WAR IMPERILS
READINESS OF AMERICAN TROOPS

The return to 12-month tours will do little to repair Iraq's damage to the Army. Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, pointed out that the damage was not easily repaired even if proper dwell time were reestablished. "He said that even if five brigades are pulled out of Iraq by July, as planned, it would take some time before the Army could return to 12-month tours for soldiers. 'Where we need to be with this force is no more than 12 months on the ground and 24 months back,' Cody said." [Washington Post, 4/2/08]

U.S. military growing weary of combat in Iraq.
"Five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the US military is flagging under long and repeated deployments that have taken a toll on troops and hurt its readiness to deal with other crises. 'People are tired,' is the way Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, summed it up at a congressional hearing last month. In a meeting with Mr. Bush late last month the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed deep concern about stress on the force, senior Defense Department and military officials said." [AFP, 3/16/08, NYT 4/6/08]

Iraq War poses "significant risk" to all-volunteer army, as the army can't absorb anymore.
Gen. Cody said that the "heavy deployments are inflicting 'incredible stress' on soldiers and families and that they pose 'a significant risk' to the nation's all-volunteer military. 'When the five-brigade surge went in, that took all the stroke out of the shock absorbers for the United States Army,' Cody testified. 'Our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it. Lengthy and repeated deployments with insufficient recovery time have placed incredible stress on our soldiers and our families, testing the resolve of our all-volunteer force like never before.'" [Washington Post, 4/2/08, NYT 4/6/08]

Joint Chiefs told Bush they are worried about America's ability to fight other threats.
"Members of the Joint Chiefs have also told the president that the continued troop commitment to Iraq means that there is a significant level of risk should another crisis erupt elsewhere in the world. Any mission could be carried out successfully, the chiefs believe, but the operation would be slower, longer and costlier in lives and equipment than if the armed forces were not so strained. Members of the Joint Chiefs also acknowledge that the deployments to Iraq, with the emphasis on counterinsurgency warfare, have left the ground forces no time to train for the full range of missions required to defend American interests." [NYT 4/6/08]

Army Chief of Staff: Iraq is hurting the Army's ability to sustain itself and plan for future contingencies. Gen. George Casey stated that "The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future." [AP, 2/26/08]

The Marine Corps, America's emergency force, is severely overstretched and has limited ability to respond to other contingencies.
The Marine Corps' ability to train for potential conflicts has been "significantly degraded," said Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. "There has been little, if any, change of the stress or tempo for our forces," he said, calling the current pace of operations "unsustainable." The Marine Corps is "basically in two boats (Iraq and Afghanistan) at the same time," he said. [Washington Post, 4/2/08]

Iraq has depleted nation's strategic "depth," inhibited ability to address real threats. According to Cody, "'I've never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today,' The nation needs an airborne brigade, a heavy brigade and a Stryker brigade ready for 'full-spectrum operations,' Cody said, 'and we don't have that today."" [Washington Post, 4/2/08]

AMERICA'S MILITARY IS OVERSTRETCHED AND MISUSED

Military officers admit that our Armed Forces are weaker, stretched thin. A survey of military officers found that 88% thought that war had stretched the military dangerously thin. 60% think that the U.S. military is weaker then it was five years ago. [Center for New American Security, 2/08]

The U.S. military is overstretched, understaffed and under-equipped. "It will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a 'death spiral,' in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand." "The combat readiness of the total Army (active units, the National Guard, and the Army Reserve) is in tatters. The simple fact is that the United States currently does not have enough troops who are ready and available for potential contingency missions in places like Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, or anywhere else" [Lawrence Korb, Testimony Before House Armed Services Committee, 7/27/07, Washington Post, 3/19/07]

Multiple deployments are taking a heavy toll on our troops.
"More than a quarter of U.S. soldiers on their third or fourth tours in Iraq suffer mental health problems partly because troops are not getting enough time at home between deployments, the Army said. 'Soldiers are not resetting entirely before they get back into theater,' said Lt. Col. Paul Bliese, who led the Army's Mental Health Advisory Team survey for 2007." [Reuters, 3/06/08]

Billions are needed to rebuild military. Estimates of the cost of resetting the army's forces and replacing or repairing war damaged equipment runs to 240 billion dollars, according to congressional leaders. [AFP, 3/16/08]

War's toll on troops mental health further threatens military readiness. "The Army study of mental health showed that 27 percent of noncommissioned on their third or fourth tour exhibited symptoms commonly referred to as post-traumatic stress disorders. That figure is far higher than the roughly 12 percent who exhibit those symptoms after one tour and the 18.5 percent who develop the disorders after a second deployment, according to the study. The study found that "soldiers on multiple deployments report low morale, more mental health problems and more stress-related work problems." By the time they are on their third or fourth deployments, soldiers "are at particular risk of reporting mental health problems," the study found." [NYT 4/6/08]

Register To Vote