Rumors swirl that Bush will send more troops to Iraq which appears unrealistic and risky given this WaPo report…
The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation’s global military strategy has outstripped their resources.
In addition, the Army will press hard for “full access” to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists, according to two senior Army officials.
At least two-thirds of Army units in the United States today are rated as not ready to deploy — lacking in manpower, training and, most critically, equipment — according to senior U.S. officials and the Iraq Study Group report. The two ground services estimate that they will need $18 billion a year to repair, replace and upgrade destroyed and worn-out equipment.
According to Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, the Army and Marine Corps today cannot sustain even a modest increase of 20,000 troops in Iraq. U.S. commanders for Afghanistan have asked for more troops but have not received them, noted the Iraq Study Group report, which called it “critical” for the United States to provide more military support for Afghanistan.
“We are facing more operational risk than we have for many, many years,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a member of the Armed Services Committee. He called it “shocking and scandalous” that two-thirds of Army units are rated “non-deployable.” He said the country has not faced such a readiness crisis since the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Training time for active-duty Army and Marine combat units is only half what it should be because they are spending about the same amount of time in war zones as at home — in contrast to the desired ratio of spending twice as much time at home as on deployment. And the training tends to focus on counterinsurgency skills for Iraq and Afghanistan, causing an erosion in conventional land-warfare capabilities, which could be required for North Korea or Iran, officials say.