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Tue

29

May

2007

Bleeding the Army and Marines
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 17:48
by Larry C Johnson

The last 11 months in Iraq are the bloodiest since the United States invaded in March of 2003.  Despite a troop surge the violence is not abating and our troops are not more secure.   Our losses in Iraq are significant.  Since March of 2003 we have lost 44 battalions worth of soldiers and marines (a battalion is a unit of 300 to 1,000 soldiers. Four to six companies make up a battalion.  I am using the figure of 650, a combat arms battalion.)  And the trend in Iraq is alarming--we are losing more, not less.  The following chart is drawn from the statistics recorded at icasualties.org:

On the eve of Memorial Day it is important to repeat warnings that we are bleeding are military forces dry.  Former Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker, warned Congress last December that:

The changed conditions of warfare have greatly affected our armed services with the significant and sustained demands for Army forces across the globe continuing to exceed the strategy set by the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review. As it currently stands, the Army is incapable of generating and sustaining the required forces to wage the Global War on Terror and fulfill all other operational requirements without its components - active, Guard, and Reserve - surging together. Fifty-five percent of our Army is in the reserve components, and while our armed forces have made drastic changes adjusting to the post 911 strategic environment, our mobilization policies have not.
Last week a friend of mine, a senior U.S. military commander who has multiple combat tours in Iraq, gave me an update on the readiness of his branch of the service:

Running the [unit] is a blast even though I'm doing it with about 30% of what I rate.  Real tragedy is that we're doing systemic damage to our [troops] operating at the high OPTEMPO and sustained rate for as long as we are.
My military buddies are terrific, patriotic warriors.  They do their jobs with great integrity, great personnel sacrifice, and minimal bitching (at least in public).  But they know we are kidding ourselves if we think we can sustain current operations in Iraq without either a draft or significant reinforcements from the so-called "coalition of the willing".  We must do one or the other because our current recruitment and retention policies are not sufficient to sustain the operations tempo for the Army and Marines in Iraq.

We cannot rely on the Iraqi soldiers or police.  In January of 2006 the Pentagon claimed that there were 137,000 trained Iraqis soldiers.  This month the Pentagon claims there are 143,000 trained Iraqis.  The failure to substantially increase the size of the Iraqi Army is only part of the problem.  The Iraqi Army also is heavily infiltrated by Shia militias.  They are not a national force dedicated to defending Iraqis regardless of race, religion, tribe or creed.  They are a sectarian vendetta force and will not bring the peace.

Meanwhile, American men and women are paying a price in blood that is not being reciprocated by the Iraqi political leaders.  Because we lack the manpower on the ground in Iraq to gain tactical control of the situation, our continued presence perversely becomes a recruiting tool for sectarian militias and, to a lesser extent, foreign terrorists.  This policy is undermining U.S. interests in the Middle East and around the world.

As you plant a flag to honor fallen soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen tomorrow, pray also that the Congress will find the courage to put a stop to this madness.

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a guest said:

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peter
war in Iraq weakened US forces against china and russia
 
June 01, 2007
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