That’s the word from a former Maj. General in a new Washington Times editorial.
Bean counters in the Pentagon tell us that Army recruitment and retention are in good shape. Problem is, our cumbersome readiness reporting system only informs leaders in Washington of conditions on the ground many months after the force begins to break. Today, anecdotal evidence of collapse is all around. Past history makes some of us sensitive to anecdotes and distrustful of Pentagon statistics. The Army’s collapse after Vietnam was presaged by a desertion of mid-grade officers (captains) and non-commissioned officers. Many were killed or wounded. Most left because they and their families were tired and didn’t want to serve in units unprepared for war.
If we lose our sergeants and captains, the Army breaks again. It’s just that simple. That’s why these soldiers are still the canaries in the readiness coal-mine. And, again, if you look closely, you will see that these canaries are fleeing their cages in frightening numbers.
But really…is the military stretched too thin?
WASHINGTON ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬? For just the second time since the war began, the Army is sending large units back to Iraq without giving them at least a year at home, defense officials said Monday. The move signaled how stretched the U.S. fighting force has become.
A combat brigade from New York and a Texas headquarters unit will return to Iraq this summer in order to maintain through August the military buildup President Bush announced earlier this year. Overall, the Pentagon announced, 7,000 troops will be going to Iraq in the coming months as part of the effort to keep 20 brigades in the country to help bolster the Baghdad security plan. A brigade is roughly 3,000 soldiers.
The Army will try not to shorten the troops’ U.S. time, “but in this case we had to,” said a senior Army official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Obviously right now the Army is stretched,” the official said.
And so it goes.