Way to go, Chimpy.
Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders said yesterday that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years.
In a stark assessment a week before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is to testify on the war’s progress, Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said that the heavy deployments are inflicting “incredible stress” on soldiers and families and that they pose “a significant risk” to the nation’s all-volunteer military.
“When the five-brigade surge went in . . . that took all the stroke out of the shock absorbers for the United States Army,” Cody testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel.
He said that even if five brigades are pulled out of Iraq by July, as planned, it would take some time before the Army could return to 12-month tours for soldiers. Petraeus is expected to call for a pause in further troop reductions to assess their impact on security in Iraq.
“I’ve never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today,” said Cody, who has been the senior Army official in charge of operations and readiness for the past six years and plans to retire this summer.
The nation needs an airborne brigade, a heavy brigade and a Stryker brigade ready for “full-spectrum operations,” Cody said, “and we don’t have that today.”
Soldiers and Marines also lack training for major combat operations using their entire range of weapons, the generals said. For example, artillerymen are not practicing firing heavy guns but are instead doing counterinsurgency work as military police.
The Marine Corps’ ability to train for potential conflicts has been “significantly degraded,” said Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.