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Are We Ready For The Next Fight?

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Everybody knows that our resources have been stretched thin as a result of the Iraq war.

But how thin?

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.

Remember I was talking about the costs of war earlier? Well, here are some more. We only have so many people to fight in this volunteer army until we start running out of them. And there’s no way in hell we can institute a draft again. So that means we shouldn’t rush headlong into one war after another after another…

“We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it,” Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

And remember, at the beginning of this whole thing, Bush and Rumsfeld wanted even FEWER troops to fight wars. Can you imagine?

The hard reality of war is that it takes time to change an entire country, and we simply don’t have the means to do it. Not unless we have significant help from other countries around the world, which we absolutely do not this time around.

Lastly, here’s where we actually stand…

The Army should have five full combat brigades’ worth of such equipment: two stocks in Kuwait, one in South Korea, and two aboard ships in Guam and at the Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean. But the Army had to empty the afloat stocks to support the troop increase in Iraq, and the Kuwait stocks are being used as units to rotate in and out of the country. Only the South Korea stock is close to complete, according to military and government officials.

Just a little food for thought on this anniversary day.