"We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it." - Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff
As we begin year five, all the White House has to say in answer to questions is "zip it."
If there is one single reason for why I want the U.S. out of Iraq this is it.
Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge.
More troubling, the officials say, is that 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 risk to the nation is serious and deepening, senior officers warn, because the U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises, whether the internal collapse of Pakistan, a conflict with Iran or an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula. ... ..
Number one on my list is the collapse of Musharaff leading to an internal implosion in Pakistan.
Then there's the equipment shortage. The Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard A. Cody offers a stark assessment.
Everyone needs to remember that the military "death spiral" happened on Bush's watch, a Republican administration, during the 109th Republican Congress. This is what Reid and Pelosi and the Democrats inherited just this year. It's going to be worse when a Democratic president takes over in '09. We can't let the Republicans or the American people forget what Republicans did to our military.
The shortages have deepened as scarce equipment and personnel are funneled to those units next in line to deploy overseas, creating ever bigger holes in the units that will leave later. "It's like a hurricane drawing everything into the center of the eye," said a senior Army officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
"For the National Guard, those shortages are even more," Cody said. Army National Guard figures show that 88 percent of its units are "not ready."
Again, how do we ask a soldier to be the last man or woman to die for a mistake, long after the original mission, minus the reasoning, has been accomplished? Here's Iraq by the numbers.
The next question is how do we destroy our military in the process and not pay a very large price in the end? Our enemies are watching, not just in Iraq, but around the world. The answers matter.
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