Two Years Later, Iraq War Drains Military
The Washington Post fronts shocking news that two years of war have left the U.S. military tired and with equipment in need of repair. Also, American troops apparently lack the ability to be in two places at once.
Two years after the United States launched a war in Iraq with a crushing display of power, a guerrilla conflict is grinding away at the resources of the U.S. military and casting uncertainty over the fitness of the all-volunteer force, according to senior military leaders, lawmakers and defense experts. The unexpectedly heavy demands of sustained ground combat are depleting military manpower and gear faster than they can be fully replenished. Shortfalls in recruiting and backlogs in needed equipment are taking a toll, and growing numbers of units have been broken apart or taxed by repeated deployments, particularly in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.
“What keeps me awake at night is, what will this all-volunteer force look like in 2007?” Gen. Richard A. Cody, Army vice chief of staff, said at a Senate hearing this week. The Iraq war has also led to a drop in the overall readiness of U.S. ground forces to handle threats at home and abroad, forcing the Pentagon to accept new risks — even as military planners prepare for a global anti-terrorism campaign that administration officials say could last for a generation.
Stretched by Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States lacks a sufficiently robust ability to put large numbers of “boots on the ground” in case of a major emergency elsewhere, such as the Korean Peninsula, in the view of some Republican and Democratic lawmakers and some military leaders.
Presumably, action elsewhere would be handled by some combination of Reserve call-up and mobilization of troops that have recently rotated from Iraq. That would be demanding, to be sure, but that’s the nature of things. It’s unrealistic to think the taxpayers will fund a force large enough to fight an infinite number of wars simultaneously.