New report details strain on US Army

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Pentagon, US Department of Defense building.

A report commissioned under a Pentagon contract to ascertain the effects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on recruitment of personnel into the United States Army has been completed. Written by a retired U.S. Army officer and executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Andrew Krepinevich, it was not publicly released. Upon inquiry, a copy was provided to the Associated Press.

As part of the conclusions reached in the Krepinevich report, it notes a drop in Army recruiting for the year 2005, a first since 1999, which came after the Army recently adopted policies of offering increased enlistment incentives. The report states that the Army is unable to maintain troop deployment to Iraq for a period adequate to disable the insurgency occurring there, and is faced with declining recruitment and re-enlistment rates.

In an Krepinevich interview , he said the Army remains an effective force and has plans to expand the number of available combat brigades for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conditions described by the report are listed as being triggered by simultaneous force restructuring, training requirements, and troop deployment requirements as well as the length of the engagement. Krepinevich also said in the interview that he believes the reason that Pentagon officials do not publicly state that the reduction in troop levels was prompted by stress on the Army; "That gives too much encouragement to the enemy."

George Joulwan, former NATO commander and retired four-star general in the US Army detailed his observations in an interview given on CNN in December of 2005; "Whether they're broken or not, I think I would say if we don't change the way we're doing business, they're in danger of being fractured and broken, and I would agree with that."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's comments made in a news conference at the Pentagon one day after the Associated Press article was published declared that the report "is just not consistent with the facts." He continued and stated of the US Army that "The force is not broken," and that such thoughts were "almost backward."

He supported this with the following comments "The world saw the United States military go halfway around the world in a matter of weeks, throw the Al Qaida and Taliban out of Afghanistan, in a landlocked country thousands and thousands of miles away. They saw what the United States military did in Iraq. And the message from that is not that this armed force is broken, but that this armed force is enormously capable."

He acknowledged the unique requirements of the campaigns in Iraq and in Afghanistan with the statement that "There is no question if a country is in a conflict and we are in the global war on terror, it requires our forces to do something other than what they do in peacetime."

On the matter of the review of US defense strategy planned for February 2006, he stated that it was "the next step in a long line of bold changes."

US Representative John Murtha incited controversy when he called for an early exit from Iraq in the fall of 2005, arguing in part that the US Army was "broken, worn out."

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