Another article that says the same thing we keep hearing: Army stretched near the breaking point.
WASHINGTON - Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.
Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract...suggested that the Pentagon’s decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended....
The Krepinevich assessment is the latest in the debate over whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn out the Army, how the strains can be eased and whether the U.S. military is too burdened to defeat other threats.
Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and Vietnam veteran, created a political storm last fall when he called for an early exit from Iraq, arguing that the Army was “broken, worn out” and fueling the insurgency by its mere presence. Administration officials have hotly contested that view.
This report seems to indicate that Murtha is right.
Remember the military machine that George W. Bush inherited from Bill Clinton? It was the same one that Clinton inherited from Bush Sr., that had won the Gulf War resoundingly. Under Clinton, it did the same job in Kosovo. Although I never supported the rationale for the war in Kosovo, I have to admit that our military did an extraordinary job of stopping the killing that was going on there, and did so at a cost of zero U.S. casualties.
So when George W. Bush took over, he had the most successful, most frightening military machine that has ever been assembled in the history of the planet. Used wisely, this could have done a great deal of good.
Then September 11 happened, and America went to war in Afghanistan. And we booted the Taliban out, got Osama on the run (and would have had him if we hadn't outsourced the job of finishing him at Tora Bora to Afghan militias who could either be fooled, bribed or cajoled into letting bin Laden escape,) and looked to be in control of the situation in Afghanistan. Had we sent enough troops and kept them there, there is every reason to think he would be history today.
But then the Bush administration chose to go into Iraq. And ignoring the advice of Gen. Shinseki who said that 400,000 troops would be needed during the occupation phase to prevent an insurgency from taking root, Don Rumsfeld and George Bush effectively fired him and planned to do the job with 100,000 (which was talked up to 150,000 by Gen. Casey.) Now that the insurgency is there, our presence does nothing to prevent it, and when we fight we feed it as much as we damage it.
And with the present administration's record of inflexible dogma, even ticking off our allies by our methods (remember that Italy was a coalition partner until we kidnapped a terror suspect off the street in Milan in a covert op) it is certain that we can't expect much tangible help (other than maybe some cheerleading) if we go to war again, for example against Iran.
And as I have said numerous times, there is a reason why Iran has become so much more confrontational now. They know the U.S. could still bomb them very effectively. But they also know they can survive that, and that to actually overrun the country, we would need 'boots on the ground,' and right now we don't have any to spare. We did four years ago (one reason why having the monstrous military might available that George Bush did then was a good position to be in; deploying force effectively doesn't necessarily mean actually using it.) Iran knows that our military is like a cannon that has been fired. We have to reload it before we can fire it again, and in the meantime the advantage is theirs, to take as much advantage as they can. Does anyone really think that if we still had the physical ability to invade and occupy Iran, that they would be as belligerent about their 'right' to build nukes as they are now?
Our military is like a very good car. Maintain it and use it properly, it will take us anywhere we need to go, internationally speaking. But fail to maintain it and abuse it, even the best car will break down after awhile.