Thomas Ricks and Vernon Loeb have an excellent set piece in today’s WaPo on the impact fourteen years of nearly non-stop missions have had on the US military. (It’s the lede of the print edition and continues on several full inside pages.) Little of it’s new information for those of us who have studied the military on a professional basis, but it may open the eyes of more casual observers. The bottom line is that the force is stretched pretty thin. Even though the active military is 40% smaller than the Gulf War era force I served in, it’s more than capable of fighting another war in Iraq. The problem is that there is little down time between major conflicts because of constant deployment to peacekeeping and brushfire situations all over the world. This also puts a lie to all the complaints that the Bush Administration is endangering our alliances by being too “unilateral.” The fact of the matter is that we’ve had damned little help over these past several years. It’s clearly time to pull back from the non-essential missions and force the wealthy countries in Europe, Japan, and some others to finally do their fair share.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.