The Military is in a Shambles and Headed for a Calamity

by James Glaser
December 20, 2006

I keep hearing that the Army and Marines are near the Breaking Point. I don't really know what that means, but it does sound ominous. If you Google "Army at breaking point," you will find 1,780,000 pages to read and what follows are a few of them.

    CBS/AP—As President Bush weighed new strategies for Iraq, the Army's top general warned Thursday that his force "will break" without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves.

    "The Army is coming to the end of its rope in Iraq," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a private research group. "It simply does not have enough active-duty military personnel to sustain the current level of effort."

    Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, wrote in an internal memorandum to the Army's top uniformed officer that the Reserve had reached the point of being unable to fulfill its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and to regenerate its forces for future missions.

    The Iraq war has left the United States military in critical condition, stretched beyond its limits in manpower and equipment and in danger of "breaking," a retired U.S. Army general said here today.

    "The United States Army is stumbling toward the edge of a cliff. It's starting to unravel," said Gen. Barry McCaffrey, speaking at a homeland defense symposium. "It has about $61 billion in equipment shortages. It has a $50 billion shortfall in the vital equipment and parts you need to run a war."

    . . .The Army's 14 brigades now deployed in Iraq have their full complement of troops with competent leadership, said McCaffrey, but "the other two-thirds of the Army's combat brigades are not ready to fight."

    With the all-volunteer force now in its fifth year of combat and facing unprecedented strains, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker stated that active-duty combat brigades spend less than one year at home.

    "At this pace, without recurrent access to the reserve components through remobilization, we will break the active component,'' Schoomaker told a panel appointed by Congress to recommend changes for the National Guard and reserves

    A report by a highly respected military analyst and commissioned by the Pentagon says that the strain of recent operations has the U.S. Army near breaking.

    More than 70% of the troops due to be deployed in Iraq next year will be returning for their third time. The Washington Times reports that "The increased demand for troops comes at a time when military analysts say it is stressed to the breaking point. . . . Non-deployed combat brigades are experiencing low-readiness ratings due mostly to lack of usable weapons and equipment. The wear and tear in Iraq is ruining M1A1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Humvees and other equipment at such a fast pace that the Army has neither the money nor the industrial base to replace them."

    The military is in a shambles and headed for a clamity.

That last line comes from the Washington Times. These are just a few quotations from reports about how our military is reaching its breaking point. When out combat troops make tour after tour after tour, they get burned out. You can only live through the hell and horror of combat so many times before you can't do it any more.

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and almost everyone else in the White House have never experienced combat is any shape or form. Nobody in the Bush administration has any idea of what they are asking of our troops.

I have to admit that I don't know exactly what each of these people quoted means by "breaking point," but I do know that if we continue on with the combat tour rotation that we have now, soon the American Army and Marines Corps will be in no condition to defend our country from anyone. We can't ask our troops to keep up this pace.

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