THE Pentagon's apparent desire to administer and pacify Iraq on the cheap isn't just risky policy, it's cruelly unfair to the troops on whom the burden is falling. It is especially unfair to the Third Infantry Division, which did a large part of the fighting in the war and has been serving under arduous conditions ever since.
The 3ID's three brigades captured Baghdad at the end of the first week of April, and (until the last two weeks or so) have done the lion's share of securing and stabilizing the Iraqi capital. Indeed, both the Second and Third Brigades have all been in the Gulf for at least nine months (a long deployment for an army in which most personnel are married).
They were due to go home at the end of May, to be relieved in place by fresh soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, and the 2d and 3d Armored Cavalry Regiments. (Other units that bore the brunt of the fighting have mostly gone home already.)
But CENTCOM took massive media flak for the lack of security in Iraq's cities at the end of May, so the Army promised to increase the number of troops on the ground. It did so not by bringing in a fresh division, but by the quick fix of keeping the exhausted Third Infantry in and around Baghdad...
... Leave aside the questionable logic of sending in a combat-weary tank unit - albeit one which has performed policing tasks magnificently - to perform tasks better suited to armored cavalry and infantry. Why send worn-out soldiers - quite possibly at the end of their tether - to a matchbox like Falluja when there are thousands of fresh combat troops all over Iraq?
Not to mention the 1st Cavalry Division, the 1st Infantry Division or the 25th Infantry Division, and significant parts of other units like the 82d airborne - all or most of which are sitting pretty at home.
It may be that there are genuine strategic reasons for keeping these units in reserve, rather than rotating them through Iraq. There may also be a convincing argument even for using the battered 3ID to do the heavy lifting in places like Falluja, instead of relatively unblooded units like the 1st Armored.
But all of this seems to show that the U.S. Army not should not be shrunk from 10 divisions to eight, as reportedly planned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Indeed, given that its tasks now and in the future involve operations other than war, it may be that our 10-division army is simply too small for the post-9/11 era.
Read the whole thing here.
Monday, June 16, 2003
A COMPELLING CASE BY THE NY POST that the Army is too small for the US role in a post 9/11 world. If it makes you want to send a note to your Representative or Senator...then so be it.