Monday, January 14, 2008

We are not safer now

By Libby

In fact, we're at greater risk than ever. Via Tim F. this bit of bad news. If we're faced with a new enemy, we had better hope it comes by sea because the Navy is the only branch of our military that has any semblence of combat readiness to open a new front outside of the current combat theaters. The rest of our forces are dismally unprepared to counter a fresh threat.
“Iraq is sort of sucking all the oxygen out of the room,” said Tammy Schultz, who studies ground forces for the Center for a New American Security, a relatively new Washington think tank dedicated to “strong, pragmatic and principled” security and defense policies.

“My huge fear is that ... we’re really putting the nation at risk,” Schultz said. “It could reach absolutely tragic levels if the United States has to respond to a major contingency any time in the near future.” [...]

The Congressional Budget Office reported in 2006 that Army readiness rates had declined to the lowest levels since the end of the Vietnam War, with roughly half of all Army units, active and reserve, at the lowest readiness ratings for currently available units.
So should we, as Bush contends he does, listen to the military commanders? Shultz has asked around the officer corps.
“All of them are terrified that we’re currently on the third rotation” in Iraq, she said. “This is unprecedented for an all-volunteer force, with the exception, I think, of the Revolutionary War.”
If another ground threat comes, we have to rely on air power and Air Force readiness is far short of optimal. Of course we do have a lot of unused nukes, but who wants to go there? Even more troubling is our equipment readiness. Everything from our tanks to our aircraft are aging and/or disintegrating under heavy use in the occupations. Yet our GOP candidates and their trained pundits blithely counsel us to stay in Iraq forever and rattle their sabres at Iran.

The only comfort I take from this piece is the sense I get that the commanders are indeed becoming concerned enough to possibly revolt should the situation become untenable, as the moderate hawks I know predicted they would. I just hope they're right because the alternative is too ugly to contemplate.

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