WASHINGTON (AFP) - Five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the US military is flagging under long and repeated deployments that have taken a toll on troops and hurt its readiness to deal with other crises.

"People are tired," is the way Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, summed it up at a congressional hearing last month.

The third longest war in US history — after the Revolutionary War and Vietnam — has forged a battle-hardened ground force with bitterly won experience in counter-insurgency warfare.

But military leaders and experts say it also has left the US Army in particular, but also the marines, with major equipment shortfalls, inadequate training in conventional warfare, and not enough troops.

Shot through it all is the human fallout from combat and the stress of repeated deployments: record suicide rates, rising divorces and mental health problems, according to army health reports.

Some troops are in their third and fourth combat deployments.

"What it means is that the army coming out of Iraq will be a shadow of its former self," said Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official and senior analyst at the Center for American Progress.

Korb said it will take at least a decade for the army to recover, assuming that the United States continues to draw down its "surge" force in Iraq, which currently number 162,000.

Estimates of the cost of resetting the army's forces and replacing or repairing war damaged equipment runs to 240 billion dollars, according to congressional leaders.

And Korb said the army could face personnel problems in coming years from having lowered quality standards to meet its recruiting goals.

"On the other hand we've got the most experienced military we've had in many a decade," said Bernard Rostker, a former undersecretary of defense for readiness in the Clinton administration.

"Soldiers who are back in Iraq three or four times, believe me they have learned. That stands us very well. So that on the readiness scale would have to be very high," he said.

Rostker said the all-volunteer force has been surprisingly resilient.

Many had thought it would break after the second or third rotation in Iraq, he said. "But that wasn't the case."

"All in all, Yes, the army is tired; yes, the army has comported itself extremely well," he said.

"Nobody expected a volunteer force to do what it has done. It has learned over time and I think you see that in the surge, and hopefully we'll be able to bring some troops home," he said.

Troop levels in Iraq are supposed to fall to 140,000 by July, offering hope of relief.

But the security situation in Iraq, while dramatically improved over last year, remains fragile and commanders are calling for a pause in the drawdown after July.

The question facing military leaders is how long the army can withstand the current pace of deployments.

"Our soldiers are deploying too frequently. We can't sustain that," General George Casey, the army's chief of staff told Congress recently. "It's impacting on their families, it's impacting on their mental health. We just can't keep going at the rate that we're going."

Casey's immediate goal is to reduce tour lengths from 15 months to 12 to ease the strain on the force, which he expects to be able to do in July when the "surge" troops are out of Iraq.

Eventually, as the army expands in size or if more troops come out of Iraq, the army hopes to increase the time soldiers have at home between deployments from 12 months to 15.

But, as Army Secretary Pete Geren warned recently, "We are consuming readiness as fast as we build it."

The almost exclusive focus on counter-insurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with the short turnaround between deployments, has meant that most military units have no time to train for conventional warfare.

Mullen told Congress last month there is "significant risk" in the US military's readiness to respond to a crisis elsewhere in the world.

Concerns about the situation appear to be widespread within the military as well, even though morale remains high.

A recent survey of 3,437 current and retired officers of the rank of major or above found that 60 percent believe the US military is weaker today than it was five years ago.

Eighty-eight percent thought the war has stretched it "dangerously thin", according to the survey by the Center for a New American Security and Foreign Policy magazine.

Link to source-webpage, obtained via: Yahoo! News: U.S. Military, March 16, 2008, 10:08am


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe

  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.