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Thread: Army too stretched if Iraq buildup lasts

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Army too stretched if Iraq buildup lasts

    Army Too Stretched if Iraq Buildup Lasts - AP, 19 Aug.



    WASHINGTON (AP) - Sapped by nearly six years of war, the Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring.
    The Army's 38 available combat units are deployed, just returning home or already tapped to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, leaving no fresh troops to replace five extra brigades that President Bush sent to Baghdad this year, according to interviews and military documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
    That presents the Pentagon with several painful choices if the U.S. wants to maintain higher troop levels beyond the spring of 2008:


    _Using National Guard units on an accelerated schedule.

    Breaking the military's pledge to keep soldiers in Iraq for no longer than 15 months.


    _Breaching a commitment to give soldiers a full year at home before sending them back to war.

    For a war-fatigued nation and a Congress bent on bringing troops home, none of those is desirable.

    In Iraq, there are 18 Army brigades, each with about 3,500 soldiers. At least 13 more brigades are scheduled to rotate in. Two others are in Afghanistan and two additional ones are set to rotate in there. Also, several other brigades either are set for a future deployment or are scattered around the globe.

    The few units that are not at war, in transformation or in their 12-months home time already are penciled in for deployments later in 2008 or into 2009. Shifting them would create problems in the long-term schedule.

    Most Army brigades have completed two or three tours in Iraq or Afghanistan; some assignments have lasted as long as 15 months. The 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, has done four tours.

    Two Marine regiments - each roughly the same size as an Army brigade - also in Iraq,- bringing the total number of brigades in the country to 20.
    When asked what units will fill the void in the coming spring if any need to be replaced, officials give a grim shake of the head, shrug of the shoulders or a palms-up, empty-handed gesture.

    "The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply," the Army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, said last week. "Right now we have in place deployment and mobilization policies that allow us to meet the current demands. If the demands don't go down over time, it will become increasingly difficult for us to provide the trained and ready forces" for other missions.
    Casey said he would not be comfortable extending troops beyond their 15-month deployments. But other military officials acknowledge privately that option is on the table ...

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Top general to urge Iraq troop cut

    Top general to urge Iraq troop cut - LATIMES, 23 Aug.

    The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.

    Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military. This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond.

    Petraeus is expected to support a White House view that the absence of widespread political progress in Iraq requires several more months of the U.S. troop buildup before force levels are decreased to their pre-buildup numbers sometime next year.

    Pace's recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed private skepticism about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus, before publicly backing it.

    According to administration and military officials, the Joint Chiefs believe it is of crucial strategic importance to reduce the size of the U.S. force in Iraq in order to bolster the military's ability to respond to other threats, a view that is shared by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

    Pace is expected to offer his advice privately instead of issuing a formal report. Still, the position of Pace and the Joint Chiefs could add weight to that of Bush administration critics, including Democratic presidential candidates, that the U.S. force should be reduced ...

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    Default General Warns Against Pullout

    25 August Washington Post - General Warns Against Pullout by Ann Scott Tyson.

    A senior U.S. commander in central Iraq said yesterday that a reduction of U.S. forces in his region this year would be "a giant step backwards," allowing insurgents to quickly return and jeopardizing the military's "tactical momentum" in reducing violence.

    "In my battlespace . . . I need the forces" until a transition to the Iraqi army and police is possible, said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who oversees a contentious region south of Baghdad. "That's not going to happen between now and Christmas," he told Pentagon reporters in a video conference from Iraq...

    The comments by Lynch also followed a report in the Los Angeles Times yesterday that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, is expected to advise Bush to cut U.S. combat brigades in Iraq by half in 2008, reducing the overall number of troops to less than 100,000 from the current total of more than 160,000.

    Pace, speaking yesterday through a spokesman, called the newspaper report "purely speculative," although he did not deny that such a cut is among the options he is considering.

    "The story is wrong. . . . I have not made nor decided on any recommendations yet," he said, according to the spokesman...

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Dispute over how deep to cut Iraq troops - AP, 26 Aug.

    New calls from lawmakers to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq may trouble the White House but are not too out of step with scenarios envisioned by war commanders. The disagreement mainly is about how deeply to cut, not when to begin.

    Anti-war Democrats and some Republicans want to bring all combat troops home in a matter of months. Generals in Iraq favor starting the transition next year from a predominantly combat role, but only gradually; this approach would leave a six-figure force in Iraq for the next president to command.

    About 162,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq now. Some 30,000 were added between January and June as the main element of President Bush's revised strategy to stabilize Baghdad. The first of five Army brigades in that buildup is expected to go home by April, if not a few months earlier.
    Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top day-to-day commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said this month that all five brigades probably would be out of Iraq — and not replaced — by August 2008. That would take the troop total back down to roughly 132,000.

    It is not clear how much lower the total might go by the time Bush leaves office in January 2009. For some military officials, the hope is below 100,000 by then ...

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    Pentagon won't make surge recommendation to Bush - McClatchy, 29 Aug.

    In a sign that top commanders are divided over what course to pursue in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday that it won't make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month's strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations.

    "Consensus is not the goal of the process," Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. "If there are differences, the president will hear them."

    Military analysts called the move unusual for an institution that ordinarily does not air its differences in public, especially while its troops are deployed in combat ...

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    I'll throw out a dissenting voice here - the Army could supply the troops along with the Guard and Reserve - but the future costs would most likely be unacceptable.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    On September 18, Carnegie Endowment President Jessica T. Mathews debated whether “Keeping troops in Iraq is vital for America’s national interests in the Middle East” in an event moderated by Margaret Warner, senior correspondent for PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. The event was hosted by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia at the historic Dome Room of the University of Virginia’s Rotunda in Charlottesville, Va.

    Mathews and Ambassador Chas. W. Freeman, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and president of the Middle East Policy Council, argued against the statement, while Frederick W. Kagan, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and an architect of the “surge” plan, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, AEI resident fellow, argued in favor.
    Is Keeping Troops in Iraq in America's Best Interest?

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    ....as a tangential follow-on, from the Jamestown Foundation's China Brief, 19 Sep 07:

    China’s Assessment of the War in Iraq: America’s “Deepest Quagmire” and the Implications for Chinese National Security
    Chinese analysts assess that the United States has been unable to achieve its strategic objectives in Iraq despite its stunningly rapid victory over the Iraqi armed forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Moreover, Chinese observers argue that the prolonged and brutal conflict that developed in the wake of this early victory has left the United States mired in a deepening morass from which there are few if any options for an easy exit. In the words of one Chinese commentator, since the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the United States has “become bogged down in the deepest military quagmire since the end of the Cold War”. Consequently, Chinese observers have concluded that the Iraq war is weakening the United States militarily, economically, and diplomatically, which at least some believe may make Washington less likely to intervene with military force in other potential hotspots.....

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