By Steven Collins
April 11, 2007
Many media articles are confirming that US ground forces are nearing a point of collapse. Two current articles (one in TIME magazine and the other in US News & World Report) powerfully confirm this fact. The cover of the April 16th issue of TIME reads: “Why Our Army is at the Breaking Point.” Everyone should read the article “Broken Down” which begins on p. 28. It contains astounding evidence that the break-down of the US army is much worse than previously realized.
Clearly, US policymakers are trying to do too much with too few troops for too long a period of time. Most readers must be familiar with stories of regular army units being deployed over and over again to Iraq or Afghanistan. The US Army Reserve units and the state National Guards are being “drafted” for repeated deployments to war zones for which these “weekend warriors” were never prepared.
The Time article states the need for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is so great that units are being sent into battle “with less training, shorter breaks and disintegrating equipment.” It cites Retired General Colin Powell as saying: “The active army is about broken.” It adds: “Army equipment is wearing out even faster than army units.” Little army equipment remains in the continental USA on which new troops can even train. It also means the US has almost no army equipment based in the continental USA to defend the US homeland. TIME makes this succinct observation: “Today’s army was molded for peacetime missions, with occasional spasms of all-out war” Instead it is being assigned to endless combat deployments.
Amazingly, the article reports that the need for troops on the ground is so great that the US military is cutting its standards for new recruits, issuing “stop-loss orders” to prevent “70,000” soldiers from leaving the army when their enlistment periods are over, and is even cannibalizing the Navy and Air Force by assigning 20,000 sailors and airmen to perform duties that army troops would normally do. The Time article notes that the army went to war lacking many categories of necessary equipment.
The TIME article is a damning account of how President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, the Congress (and even president Clinton before them) have “starved” the army for cash “since the cold war’s end.” I find the most alarming fact in the article is its observation that the army has been so overdeployed that, for the first time ever, there isn’t a single “ready brigade” to deploy to any other world crisis location. The army cupboard is bare. Our enemies know it.
The article notes that our volunteer army is being paid gigantic sums to either enlist or re-enlist. Obviously, the force structure needs to be changed…and soon, but neither the President nor the Congress can bring themselves to opt for the only real solution: a military draft. Because it costs so much to entice people to join the army, the cost structure for training each soldier is unbelievably high if a volunteer army is retained. Given its current cost structure, the army cannot be expanded to the size necessary to perform its missions if it remains a volunteer army. The only way to make it large enough would be to opt for a draft where lots of recruits receive minimal pay for military service (like all previous major US wars).
When the elder President Bush went to war in 1991 in the Persian Gulf war, he was able to wield a vastly-larger US military bequeathed to him by President Reagan. President Bush, the younger, has gone to war with the greatly-reduced military he inherited from President Clinton. Continuing to wage major wars without greatly increasing the size of the army and its stocks of equipment is a recipe for disaster. No matter what is done, the US army will take years to recover and be rebuilt to superpower size.
An April 16th article in US News magazine (“Insult to Injury”) focuses on how the chronic injuries of the US army troops veterans are being ignored by the US government. This article follows on the heels of numerous media stories about the shockingly-bad conditions experienced by neglected soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. The US News article documented that the US military is systematically ignoring wounded veterans by denying them disability benefits to which they should be entitled. The US News article has a shocking graphic in it. It demonstrates that the US military actually has granted fewer disability awards to wounded vets during the war years which followed 2002 than during the peacetime years which preceded the current wars! Does this make sense to anyone? One does not need to be a rocket scientist to realize that the military has been told by its superiors to deny disability retirements to the tidal wave of wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan in order to cut costs. Heart-rending case histories are cited in the US News article. Who will want to join the army when it becomes apparent the nation will not take care of you if you are disabled in combat?
The steady deterioration of the US army under President Bush weakens our nation even though Ezekiel 38 warns that the USA itself will eventually be targeted by a military attack from Russia, China, Iran and other nations at the end of our age. If US policy makers understood the Bible, they would be on a crash course to increase the size of the US military. Instead, they are wearing out what little army we have left. Russia, China and Iran must be delighted with the consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: the US military is being worn out and depleted fighting no-win wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This mightily serves the long-term interests of Russia, China and Iran as they know the US army is in a very weakened condition. The enemies of the US couldn’t be more pleased than if they had planned for this very outcome. Maybe they did.
By Steven Collins