Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Our military effectiveness suffering for Bush's mistakes.

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.


Chuck said...

What you say is exactly right. If the U.S. military had the manpower (escalating "boldness" by Iran aside) we'd have boots on the ground there right now.

I think world domination is right up there along with subjugation of its own citizens with this bush regime. What better place to start than the region of the planet that controls the most oil reserves?

Anonymous said...

How about investigating our troop levels over the last decade or so?

In 1991 (Pre Clinton) 1.98 million.
In 1999 (End of Clinton) 1.39 million.
In 2004 1.43 million. http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/troopMarch2005.xls

Sure, the armed forces are stretched thin. But perhaps if they had been given necessary funding in the "booming" 90's they would have maintained higher levels of active duty troops and be in a much better situation now.

Eli Blake said...


Perhaps, (and it is certainly true that if Saddam Hussein had been the dictator of a repressive regime in, for example, Cuba or North Korea or Zimbabwe or some other country with no oil, we wouldn't have spent two minutes planning an invasion.) But given his level of incompetence, those who compare Bush to Hitler are dead wrong. Mussolini is a much better comparison.


I see you have a problem with selectively picking through numbers.

In 1991, the numbers were inflated by callups for the Gulf War. By 1992, both that and the Cold War were over, so Bush Sr. proposed cutting the numbers by a lot (remember the 'peace dividend?') and got that with the support of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Clinton wasn't inaugurated until 1993. Further, by 2001, the numbers went back up again due to Kosovo and the realization that we might actually be needed. And heck, in 2004, it was John Kerry, not George Bush, who proposed expanding the army by adding two full combat divisions plus the necessary support for them. Had he done so, we still might be stretched thin, but not nearly as bad as we are now.

And to be honest, the numbers we have now would be sufficient, IF Mr. Bush had put enough into Iraq early in the occupation to prevent an insurgency from starting (as Gen. Shinseki recommended).

dorsano said...

But perhaps if they had been given necessary funding in the "booming" 90's they would have maintained higher levels of active duty troops and be in a much better situation now

Everything's Clinton's fault - I just can't fathom why liberals don't understand that.

This administration has been given everything it needs to recruit however many men and women it needs to serve.

It's their failure if they haven't been able to manage to recruit and train more.

And it's a tribute to those who serve that they continue to do so for the second, third and probably fourth rotations.

And many of the guard at least and the ready reserve will come back home and find their jobs gone.

And no doubt they'll be lumped in with all those other Americans who don't take "personal responsibility" for their lives.

Anonymous said...

Of course everything is not Clinton's fault. But huge budget cuts for the military in the 90's are partially his fault and partially why we are in the situation we are in now. With an extra 600,000 troops available, the situation in Iraq would be more palatable.

Someone (Bush or Rumsfeld) certainly deserves blame for making Iraq the mess it is now. The decision to go in an remove Saddam was the right one. But it sure has been a mess since then.

I agree, Gen. Shinseki had the right plan. But there were plenty of other Generals who had other plans. Maybe they should be getting some of the blame now that Rumsfeld and Bush are getting.

In Indiana we have laws protecting jobs of Reservists who are serving. I am surprised that other states do not have these sensible laws.

Eli Blake said...


Most of the budget cuts were post-cold war (when we had no use for such a large military). And yeah, maybe we should have done a better job of estimating how much our continuing support for repressive monarchies in oil producing countries was going to piss off so many people, but that was hard to foresee ten years ago. And heck, one thing I do agree with Bush on (yeah, about once a year he says something that makes sense) is that we should be redeploying troops out of Europe to places where they are more relevant (though why he said that two years ago and they are still there, is another matter).

I don't agree that the decision to remove Saddam was the right one. Yeah, he was a brutal dictator who killed and tortured thousands, but so are dozens of others in the world (including one guy only ninety miles from Florida). And if we want to support people (as we did support the Kurds) who want to fight for their own freedom against these characters, then that's fine. But it isn't the U.S. military's job to go in and 'fix' every little problem or kick out every tin horn despot that exists in the world (one of the reasons why I opposed Clinton's war in Kosovo, by the way.)

Also, it was pretty much the consensus of the generals that we didn't have enough. Rumsfeld had this whole hairbrained idea of a 'lighter, leaner' army that didn't need so much armor or so many troops or so much of anything else, really (the kind of thinking that springs from conservative economics, by the way) and most of the generals were in disagreement with that (Shinseki was the most vocal, but it was Casey who took the more diplomatic approach and eventually negotiated-- read that again, negotiated, not asked for and got-- an increase in the occupation force to around 150,000.)

As for how we treat reservists and National Guard, well consider this: My brother in law was in the Colorado National Guard and was deployed to Iraq. Now, his employer did hold his job for him (not sure if that is required in Colorado or if his employer just chose to do the right thing) but with a major cut in pay, my sister in law (my wife's sister) struggled to make ends meet. So far, well, not what you wouldn't expect. But here is the clincher: About halfway through their deployment, they got a two week furlough to come home. So the military flew all these Colorado guardsmen to Baltimore and Atlanta, then left them there with instructions to return in two weeks. They had to buy commercial airline tickets to get home and see their families (and I don't need to tell you that it was a real strain on some of their families because of the loss of income). Now, it seems to me that if you give a bunch of guardsmen furloughs to fly home for two weeks, the least you could do is fly them to Colorado.

Anonymous said...

The other part of the Iraq war that libs are not admitting to is how faulty our intelligence was. Faulty intelligence should not be placed on Bush's head.

Now, it seems to me that if you give a bunch of guardsmen furloughs to fly home for two weeks, the least you could do is fly them to Colorado.

I agree.

dorsano said...

Of course everything is not Clinton's fault. But huge budget cuts for the military in the 90's are partially his fault and partially why we are in the situation we are in now. With an extra 600,000 troops available, the situation in Iraq would be more palatable.

Eli's refuted much of this - but I think you're both missing the point

There's not enough people willing to serve right now under these circumstances.

Uncle Sam wants you even if you�re 42 years old

The Defense Department quietly asked Congress on Monday to raise the maximum age for military recruits to 42 for all branches of the service.

Under current law, the maximum age to enlist in the active components is 35, while people up to age 39 may enlist in the reserves. By practice, the accepted age for recruits is 27 for the Air Force, 28 for the Marine Corps and 34 for the Navy and Army, although the Army Reserve and Navy Reserve sometimes take people up to age 39 in some specialties.

Sorry if I wasn't clear - This administration has been given everything it's asked for - and it hasn't gotten the job done.

Eddie, you're repeating the old "Democrats Don't Fund the Millitary" line - not only is it not true historically

It's not relevent - funding isn't the problem.

dorsano said...

The other part of the Iraq war that libs are not admitting to is how faulty our intelligence was. Faulty intelligence should not be placed on Bush's head.

We never had a debate in this country about wether or not "bringing democracy to Iraq" would do any good against the likes of al-Quida - enough good to justify the cost in lives and treasure.

we weren't allowed to.

Instead - we got visions of mushroom clouds - we got propoganda - and we got intimidation.

The "intelligence" was not "faulty" - all intelligence comes in grades from poor to quality - intelligence was selectively chosen regardless of its quality - and most people realize that now.

That's one big reason why we got so much resistance from the rest of the world - especially regarding the nuclear program.

The interesting thing is that I don't know which side of the "liberation" debate I would have come down on.

but I know that I don't let anyone in Washington, DC jerk me around - I didn't when LBJ was president - and I didn't this time around.

What remains is how to repair the damage this administration has done - in so many different areas

and none of it will be easy

dorsano said...

Eddie - if you're still reading

We're all liberals in some respects, we're all conservatives in other respects and we're all liberatarians in other respects

I can safely say that you're liberal by and large - because this country leans liberal and you're here talking to the likes of me.

If you're using "libs" to mean "those in opposition to this administration's policy in Iraq" - that works for me

the majority of the country thinks that this administration got it wrong in Iraq.

If you've got some other caricature of a "lib" in mind - go ahead and hold that close to you if want

but it's not real - my family's Republican - and they don't think much of this president's war either

So does "libs" mean "Democrats" to you? Or something else?

Eli Blake said...

Yes, our intelligence was faulty. But it was also cherry picked.

And since they were willing to knowingly give questionable intelligence to the Secretary of State as he was preparing to address the U.N., it is almost inescapable to think that the same kind of carefully weeded intelligence was given to the Senate. It's not that the good intel wasn't out there, it's that they only went with what supported their already-made decision.

dorsano said...

Yes, our intelligence was faulty. But it was also cherry picked.

Hey!!! That's what I said - was I so obtuse that you needed to clarify?

Jeezlouise - why do I even bother posting on this blog - I should just go out smoke pot or something - or teach my kids to become ecoterrorists like all good liberals do.

Eli Blake said...

No, Dorsano, you did say that.

I have a bad habit of leaving two or three browser windows open and going over to other blogs. So, I came back here, then posted a comment. And yes, that is what you said.

Anonymous said...

I think we talked earlier about how this miserable and inept government is treating our military. And I for one would not hold it against anyone for not wanting to suffer any of those kinds of indignities like you cited, Eli. Lost pay, reduced benefits, the reneged-on bonus and sign-up pay, having to buy their own personal armor (and being told in some cases if they wear it and they will be disciplined and if they die, their families will lose death benefits), lack of up-armor, paying for their own transportation on leave, possible civilian job loss, lost educational benefits, and putting more hardships on the family back at home, etc, etc.

To those who would still serve, I support and honor.

[Anybody feel a draft?]

Eli Blake said...


There won't be a draft.

Two reasons for this: 1) It would bring this into full and glaring perspective, and the political price is one that Republicans don't want to pay (and we already have a de-facto draft with callbacks and involuntary re-enlistments of some specialists). and 2) In the case of a draft, some people would publically announce they were gay in order to dodge the draft, and then they would no longer be able to keep up their charade any longer on gays in the military. They'd have to confront it head on, and no matter what happened, it would again be a loser for the Republicans by dividing their base (while ours is united on this issue.)

Anonymous said...

I truly hope that it works that way, Eli. I don't trust this government, after all the stunts they've already pulled. What would happen if it gets to the point where our military enrollment is so low that country's safety is in jeopardy? I am uneasy about this.

Anonymous said...


"our" country's safety...

[preview, then publish!]

Eli Blake said...


I still doubt if they would implement a draft for the above reasons. Ironically, only Democrats are politically enabled to implement a draft if they felt it was necessary, because 1) they didn't cause the military to be overstretched, so they would be able to claim they were fixing an 'inherited' problem, and the homophobic crowd that would refuse to vote Democrat if we did this (since you would have to publically change the policy and let gays in or you have a truck sized hole for draft dodgers), is already voting Republican. So it won't hurt us if they get steamed, but it would hurt the GOP.