From the Department of Duh

The commanding US general in Iraq, Gen. Casey gave an interview yesterday in which he said that US forces in Iraq were “stretched”

This is a conclusion from the Department of Duh as the evidence has been out there for all to see even before retired Col. Krepinevich Thin Green Line report was leaked earlier this week.

The first piece of evidence that should be evident to anyone who wants to be serious and usefully informed about Iraq was the September 2003, Congressional Budget Office estimate that if you held a 1 in 2 out pattern, that the Army ran out of forces from the active duty formations for a 17 brigade baseline force in 2004. We have already seen that happen as the current rotation is 2 in, 3 out. We are also seeing all fifteen National Guard ESBs go through mobilization and combat deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan at least once in the past forty months.

The second piece of evidence is from the operational patterns of US forces. It is quite typical for US forces to raid a town such as Haditha four, five, six times or to cut in by a third the forces available in Anbar provinces as raids into cities are proclaimed successes until they are repeated again next month. We should note that during the second battle of Fallujah, nine US battalions were available in the immediate vicinity of the city. At the same time, Mosul was left uncovered and the insurgents routed the police. The closest available US battalion to respond was a Stryker battalion that was already committed to operations in Fallujah. This concentration (bought by bringing in the British as backfill and uncovering Mosul) at Fallujah was sufficient to take the city, but recent increases in insurgent attacks activities there show that the city is no more secure than any other Sunni-Arab dominated city.

The third piece of evidence is the deployment pattern. Deploying the 11th ACR and the 1/509 PIR is a good indicator of stress. Both of these units are excellent units but their primary mission is to act as the graduate level training courses for every other US Army ground combat unit before they deploy. These two units are roughly a brigade equivilant, and a very expensive brigade equivilant for when they are in Iraq, they are not at Ft. Irwin or Ft. Polk improving the combat effectiveness of twelve to sixteen other brigades. This deployment was made knowing of this cost. If there was an easier/better way of finding another rested brigade for Iraq, the Pentagon would have preferred to have gone that route.

Fourth, there are many Marine battalions that are going in for their third rotation, and by Christmas, there should be at least one battalion that will being embarking upon their fourth combat tour. Active duty Army division and brigade level formations are seeing their second year plus tours starting now, and sub-units and specialists are seeing third and fourth deployments to Iraq.

Finally, recruitment is a strong indicator of the stress on the force. Last fiscal year, the US Army was short of a brigade slice in their recruiting efforts. This year, the quotas are being met, but only because the Army is willing to destroy a generation long committment to high quality in order to meet their quantity objectives. This again is a very high cost choice, and if the Army did not need/want to expand their ranks, the preference would have been for quality over quantity.

So it is good to see a statement of reality, but it is not new news to anyone paying attention over the past two years.

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