US military readiness

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"When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness." – 2000 US Republican Party Platform

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (not to mention the highly successful 1994 Balkan Intervention) it should be obvious (even to the liberal-minded) that the military is important for reasons other than killing people (a reputation strong in recent memory due largely to the Vietnam War).

Under the presidency of George W. Bush, however, US military readiness – i.e. the ability of the US military to effectively respond to major crisis situations – has plunged to dangerously low levels; as of this writing, we are not prepared to deal with even a single significant event, much less two. Under Bush's predecessor, who was aiming for the ability to handle two simultaneous major crises, the military was at least more than ready to deal with one.

The Army, with an active-duty force of 504,000, has been stretched by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 400,000 have done at least one tour of combat duty, and more than a third of those have been deployed twice. Commanders have increasingly complained of the strain, saying last week that sustaining current levels will require more help from the National Guard and Reserve or an increase in the active-duty force. (lifted from [1])


An anonymous poster said on ~2008-04-27, on Contrary Brin:

About "More Crimes Against the Military," congratulations David on being the first one I've seen bring this up anywhere. As a Naval officer and pilot, I've seen this first hand for about 3 years now. I've had close friends sent to Iraq and embedded in Army units. Some of them are there still. I very narrowly avoided a 15-month tour over there myself. I was not, nor were any of my friends, volunteers. We are all Navy PILOTS, individually being taken out of our OPERATIONAL squadrons and sent to fill Army ground jobs. Can you imagine the inefficiency of that? The government spent millions of dollars and several years training us to fly airplanes, and now they're sending us to do jobs that apparently we can be trained for in 2 weeks (that's how long the training program is, and it's the same one regardless of the specific job assigned). But wait, there's a long-term effect too. Pilots are leaving the military in droves specifically to avoid these tours, forcing the government to train even MORE people to take our places.

Meanwhile, I have to laugh when I read that the Army will expand by 70,000 soldiers. Where do they expect to get these people? They're obviously undermanned if they're taking pilots to serve as ground officers. The military has already relaxed age requirements, requirements for recruits to have high school diplomas, not to have a criminal record, not to have used certain drugs, not to have tattoos above the neck, and more. And they're still not meeting their self-imposed recruiting goals. Believe me, I've seen the result in the Navy and it isn't pretty. We've had more legal and disciplinary problems in the last two years than I saw in the previous ten.

David Brin said on 2006-09-27, on Contrary Brin:

Clinton left Bush a military that had just competently cleaned up the Balkans and was demonstrably ready to take on BOTH the Taliban and Saddam. That is proved by the very events that the neocons are most proud of!

What kind of military is Bush leaving us now? Depleted and harried reserves, worn-down equipment, a tormented and low-morale officer corps, gigantic budget deficits and ground counter-insurgency committments that have half of our Army mired-down, unavailable for any other emergency duty.

<linkedimage> wikipage=Issuepedia:Debaticons tooltip=claim that is the main subject of a debate img_src=Image:Arrow-button-rt-20px.png img_alt=right arrow debaticon </linkedimage> Midian says: As typical with every Democrat president after Kennedy (is this true? see #Notes -W.), former President Clinton cut the military, and President Bush (43) has waited until the military was already engaged to take the time to increase its size.

"i" debaticon Not all Democrats have cut military funding, and not all Republicans have increased it. See US Military Spending for more data. Clinton did reduce the military budget, but so did Bush I. In any case, the differences and the effects are trivial compared to how the troops are being used, which has been devastating even with the hugest military budget in recent memory. --Woozle 11:50, 26 September 2006 (EDT)

Related Notes

Apparently Great Britain isn't in much better shape, with 5500 troops in Iraq and 6000 in Afghanistan, out of only about 25,000 "frontline infantry" total: