One obvious truth ignored by Very Serious People on my TV is the punishing and unsustainable cost of maintaining our occupation in Iraq.
Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders said yesterday that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years.
In a stark assessment a week before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is to testify on the war’s progress, Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said that the heavy deployments are inflicting “incredible stress” on soldiers and families and that they pose “a significant risk” to the nation’s all-volunteer military.[…] “I’ve never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today,” said Cody, who has been the senior Army official in charge of operations and readiness for the past six years and plans to retire this summer. […] The nation needs an airborne brigade, a heavy brigade and a Stryker brigade ready for “full-spectrum operations,” Cody said, “and we don’t have that today.”
Soldiers and Marines also lack training for major combat operations using their entire range of weapons, the generals said. For example, artillerymen are not practicing firing heavy guns but are instead doing counterinsurgency work as military police.
The situation is just unbelievably depressing. The most that we can accomplish now is to take sides in an internecine fight in which either winner will have friendly ties with Iran plus brewing fights both with Sunnis, over about five hundred years of accumulated grievance, and with the Kurds whenever the Kirkuk referendum comes to a vote. For his trouble the winner will inherit a broken waste with third world infrastructure. Talented leadership is leaving the Army at the fastest rate since Vietnam.
In return for this somewhat limited strategic accomplishment we now risk some unexpected conflict catching America flat-footed, unable to answer any serious challenge unless the enemy fields a Navy. In any meaningful sense America is less secure now than we were back when Colin Powell frightened the UN with bugbears and basilisks.
Unless I missed anyone else who opposed Iraq from day one, it’s fairly clear that the only National Security Conservatives left on Earth are Daniel Larison and Pat Buchanan. If the EPA is notified soon enough maybe they can be induced to breed.