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Attention All Trouble-Makers
U.S. Military Is Ill-Prepared for Other Conflicts

On their own

From the Post: “Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge. More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a "death spiral," in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand. The risk to the nation is serious and deepening, senior officers warn, because the U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises, whether the internal collapse of Pakistan, a conflict with Iran or an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula. Air and naval power can only go so far in compensating for infantry, artillery and other land forces, they said. An immediate concern is that critical Army overseas equipment stocks for use in another conflict have been depleted by the recent troop increases in Iraq, they said. [...] Indeed, the recent increase of more than 32,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has pushed already severe readiness problems to what some officials and lawmakers consider a crisis point. Schoomaker said last week that sustaining the troop increase in Iraq beyond August would be "a challenge." The Marines' commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, expressed concern to defense reporters last week that it would bring the Marine Corps "right on the margin" of breaking the minimum time at home for Marines between combat tours. U.S. commanders in Iraq say they may need to keep troop levels elevated into early 2008. The troop increase has also created an acute shortfall in the Army's equipment stored overseas -- known as "pre-positioned stock" -- which would be critical to outfit U.S. combat forces quickly should another conflict erupt, officials said. [...] Equipment is also lacking among Army units in the United States, the vast majority of which are rated "not ready" by the Army, based on measures of available gear, training and personnel, according to senior military officers and government officials. Active-duty Army combat brigades in the United States face shortages of heavy, medium and light tactical vehicles such as Humvees; radios; night-vision goggles; and some weapons, [Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard A. Cody] said. The shortages have deepened as scarce equipment and personnel are funneled to those units next in line to deploy overseas, creating ever bigger holes in the units that will leave later. "It's like a hurricane drawing everything into the center of the eye," said a senior Army officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.” The full story...

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