US WAR OF AGGRESSION DEPLETES TROOPS
Continuing resistance in Iraq has a global effect. Washington’s generals are worried about the inability of their army to wage new wars
By Rainer Rupp
[This article published in: Junge Welt, 3/20/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2007/03-20/050.php?print=1.]
Four years after the beginning of the Iraq war, Washington’s occupation troops have obviously been militarily hurt in the Tigris-Euphrates land. Nearly half of US military equipment was unusable – through the over hundred daily attacks of the Iraqi resistance and the constant deployments that hardly allow time for maintenance. The reserves in soldiers and material are nearly used up. In a congressional hearing, US commanders warned that the capacity of their country to wage more wars elsewhere in the world is seriously undermined under these conditions. “The risk for the US in not being able to react (in not carrying out more aggressions) is serious and will become ever greater,” the Washington Post reported on 3/19/2007 with reference to high-ranking US officers. These officers warn US ground forces have no great strategic reserve any more to react to a crisis like “Pakistan’s internal collapse, a conflict with Iran or war on the Korean peninsula.” The air force and marines can only partly replace the infantry, artillery and ground forces.
The US generals appeared very worried that the base with important military equipment close to the crisis regions could not equip the additional 30,000 US soldiers for the latest escalation of the Iraq war. Even worse, the army and the marine infantry will need many years to recover from the “death spiral” in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars had eaten up 40 percent of the total military budget that hasn’t been adequately replaced. Only a few reserve units (Army National Guard) ready for duty are left at home.
To the Armed Forces committee of the US Congress, US army chief General Peter Schoomaker explained last Thursday: “We now have a strategy that we cannot realize with our resources.” It will be very hard to maintain the escalation in Iraq past August with 30,000 more soldiers. Before the same committee his representative, General Richard Cody, described the readiness of the army reserves in the case of an extended war as “desolate.” If the strategic reserve is used, the readiness of the units will be even lower.
According to US military doctrine, the armed forces of the United States should be able to wage two large and three small wars at the same time. The Pentagon today is more removed from that readiness than ever. The top US military, Chief of Staff General Peter Pace said this in February when asked by a congressional committee about the readiness of the armed forces: “I don’t feel well.” “If one looks around the globe, our armed forces face many challenges,” General Pace said, “Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela, Colombia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea and Pakistan – and I am sure I have left out a few.”
Because of the shortage in soldiers and material, the US is confronted with growing risks. On January 17 before the Senate Armed Forces committee, General Pace sounded more confident. To the question of Senator Nelson whether the US despite Iraq and Afghanistan still had enough military striking force “to militarily confront other possible emergencies like Iran or China,” Pace said the air force and marines together with the reserves of the ground forces could only cope with one of three contingencies including North Korea. “The wars will take longer than we want.” To give the necessary “flexibility” to the US armed forces to react to “crises” around the world, the highest ranking US officer recommended to Congress last week increasing the permanent manpower strength of the army and marine infantry by 92,000 soldiers in the next years.