Asked if he had ever seen the Army so stretched, the official said: "Not in my 31 years" of military service.
The assessment by the official, who insisted on anonymity during a briefing of reporters from several major newspapers, provided a glimpse of one of the major sources of pressure on the Bush administration to hasten efforts to improve security in Iraq and recruit troops from other countries who can substitute for U.S. forces...
...The Army now has 128,000 troops in Iraq, along with 15,000 British troops and a U.S. Marine contingent that is drawing down to about 7,000. An additional 45,000 Army troops are in Kuwait providing support. The Army contribution adds up to the equivalent of just over five divisions out of a total active-duty strength of 10 divisions.
"This is a problem," the senior Pentagon official said, then quickly amended the comment, adding: "It is only a problem depending upon how quickly or how long it takes to get the coalition to come in to relieve this pressure."...
..."It's not just about fixing the equipment," he said. "It's about getting the soldiers back, getting them back to their schools, getting them back with their families and getting them refitted also."
While eager to reduce the U.S. troop level, Army officials expect that a substantial number of ground troops will be required in Iraq for some time.
They plan to manage this by rotating units in and out, as was done before the war, when much smaller numbers of Army troops were kept in Kuwait. But instead of limiting the rotations to six months, as was the case before, the rotation period is likely to be lengthened to nine months, the official said, starting with the troops currently there.
"It'll get us to a steady state over a three- or four-year period a lot quicker," the official said.
To relieve some of the pressure on the Army's active-duty force of 486,000, reservists have taken over responsibility for staffing operations in the Balkans, the Sinai Peninsula and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But Army Guard and Reserve units have also been badly strained by call-ups related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as homeland defense.
By the way...I calculated it...the 128,000 troops in Iraq and 45,000 in Kuwait is the equivalent of 36% of the entire Active Duty Army. Oh, and if the 9 month rotation holds up, CPT Patti will be home in January of 2004.
Friday, June 06, 2003
A SUPERB PIECE in the Washington Post. This article is must reading. And then, again, ask yourself just which 2 divisions Secretary Rumsfeld thinks we can do without?