September 27th, 2007

submarine insignia, dolphins

The Army is now officially broke.

According to this front-page story in today's Boston Globe, the Army is stretched so thin that "the current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies."

Who's making that claim? Some filthy scumbag liberal hater-of-the-troops, right?

Wrong. GEN George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, that's who:
WASHINGTON - The Army's top officer, General George Casey, told Congress yesterday that his branch of the military has been stretched so thin by the war in Iraq that it can not adequately respond to another conflict - one of the strongest warnings yet from a military leader that repeated deployments to war zones in the Middle East have hamstrung the military's ability to deter future aggression.

[ ... ]

Officials said Casey, who appeared along with Army Secretary Pete Geren, personally requested the public hearing - a highly unusual move that military analysts said underscores his growing concern about the health of the Army, America's primary fighting force.

Casey, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wanted a public forum even though he has ample opportunity to speak to lawmakers in closed-door meetings.

Representative John M. McHugh, a New York Republican, said Casey's blunt testimony was "just downright frightening."
Emphaisis mine - because, AFAICT, this is the first time any top brass have come out and pushed something that might be possibly imply that the President's policies are less than wonderful. We've seen the brass admit to problems when Congress (or the press) rubs their face in them (for instance, the mess at Walter Reed earlier this year). BUt actually going out and asking for a public platform to sound the alarm? For a Bush appointee, that's Career Ending Maneuver Number One.

Other choice bits from the same article:
Several Pentagon insiders have privately remarked that Casey's apparent alarm about the Army heightened when he returned from nearly three years of duty in Iraq. One civilian military adviser said that Casey was taken aback when informed at a recent meeting that some combat units were heading into battle short of key personnel. After the meeting, the adviser said, Casey took an officer aside and peppered him with questions about exactly which units were affected.

Casey and Geren insisted that the units now deployed to the combat zone are highly trained and outfitted with the proper equipment. However, they said the units of most concern are the ones returning from Iraq or those preparing to deploy without all the proper equipment.

Stocks of equipment the Army has positioned around the world are also growing low because of the war, they said. Replenishing those stockpiles, Casey told the committee, "will give us back our strategic flexibility."

A major risk for the future, however, is that the Army currently spends nearly all of its time training for counterinsurgency operations - "to the detriment of preparedness" for other types of combat, Casey testified. If troops don't continue to train, their skills "will atrophy over time."

Army units are now deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan for 15 months at a time. At current force levels, that allows them 12 months or less back home before being sent overseas again. Casey said yesterday that the cycle allows for "insufficient recovery time."
Gee, fifteen months on and twelve off isn't enough time to recover from a combat deployment? The phrase "No shit, Sherlock?" comes to mind.

Anybody want to take bets on how soon GEN Casey is asked to resign? Or at least to re-spin his testimony?