Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rumsfeld Says Military Not Overextended

Well, right after the media picked up on the story of the Army's "thin green line" could snap, we get a White House talking point response from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday disputed reports suggesting that the U.S. military is stretched thin and close to a snapping point from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, asserting "the force is not broken."

"This armed force is enormously capable," Rumsfeld told reporters at a
Pentagon briefing. "In addition, it's battle hardened. It's not a peacetime force that has been in barracks or garrisons."

Rumsfeld spoke a day after The Associated Press reported that an unreleased study conducted for the Pentagon said the Army is being overextended, thanks to the two wars, and may not be able to retain and recruit enough troops to defeat the insurgency in Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answers a question during a media briefing in Pentagon, Washington, January 25, 2006. REUTERS/Molly Riley

Got to love Rummy here--the Army is not broken! It's "battle hardened." Of course, Rumsfeld doesn't acknowledge the problems that the Army has in retaining and recruiting troops. What does Rumsfeld say? The problems the military has is the result of Bill Clinton's fault. Continuing on:

Reports suggesting that the U.S. military is close to the breaking point "is just not consistent with the facts," he said.

In an apparent shot at the Democratic Clinton administration, Rumsfeld said a number of components of the armed forces were underfunded during the 1990s, "and there were hollow pieces to it. Today, that's just not the case."

He said there were over 1.4 million active U.S. troops, and some 2 million — counting National Guard and Reserve units — of which only 138,000 people were in Iraq.

"Do we still need more rebalancing? You bet," Rumsfeld said.

The secretary suggested he was not familiar with reports suggesting an overburdened military. But, he said, "It's clear that those comments do not reflect the current situation. They are either out of date or just misdirected."

US soldiers stand guard as Iraqis protest at the entrance of Abu Gharib prison, in May 2004. A US military interrogator convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing his head into a sleeping bag was sentenced to a reprimand and fine but escaped jail time.(AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar)

Excuse me Rumsfeld? The military was underfunded by Clinton? There is a slight problem with this potshot, and that is Clinton did not send us into a prolonged war and occupation in Iraq--your boss President Bush did. Yes, Clinton did send peacekeepers into the Balkins, and fired a few cruise missiles at Saddam, but that did not break the military. President Bush's illegal invasion into Iraq, the subsequent American occupation, and subsequent insurgency against American forces in Iraq is what has broken the military. It is the extended tours and stop-loss agreements imposed on current soldiers, the sending of national guard units into Iraq, the lack of body armor or armoured Humvees, that have pretty much broken the Army. It is the neoconservatives pipe-dream of American imperialism in the Middle East--created and expressed through the Project for a New American Century, an organization that you belong to, Mr. Rumsfeld--that has broken this army.

Of course, Rumsfeld would certainly ignore all that--it is not part of the White House talking points. Continuing on:

In the earlier report obtained by The Associated Press, Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote it under Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency.

As evidence, he pointed to the Army's 2005 recruiting slump — missing its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999 — and its decision to offer much bigger enlistment bonuses and other incentives.

Rumsfeld said that "retention is up" and that recruitment levels must meet higher goals, ones raised because of the operations on the ground.

At the same time, Rumsfeld added: "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."

"The force is not broken," Rumsfeld said, suggesting such an implication was "almost backward."

"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," Rumsfeld said.

Okay, so Rumsfeld is saying the retention rate is up, and the Army recruitment has to meet higher goals. And to top it off, Rumsfeld tosses in the tired old argument that the US is fighting the great war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now check out these interesting little facts in the story:

The Army fell more than 6,600 recruits short of its goal of enlisting 80,000 troops last year, the first time it missed its annual target since 1999 and the largest shortfall in 26 years.

But the Army exceeded its monthly recruiting goal in December for the seventh consecutive month, though some of those targets were lowered from last year's. It will have to increase its recruiting pace, however, to meet its target of 80,000 that it has set for the budget year ending next Sept. 30.

A new law will let the Army attract older recruits, raising the top age from 35 to 42. In addition, financial bonuses for enlistments and re-enlistments have increased.

Talk about contradictory facts here. The Army fell short of its yearly recruitment goal of enlisting 80,000 troops, by 6,600. They missed their annual target since 1999 and it was the largest recruitment shortfall in 26 years. This is a major statistic to be concerned with. Like it or not, the Army did not make its recruitment goals--even with the increased advertising, and the increased incentives and bonuses for re-enlistments and recruitments. Second, the Army is trying to get anyone they can to join, considering they've raised the top age from 35 to 42. I guess the young people of prime military age--say 18 to 25--are not joining, so the military is going to have to keep raising the age again to make up for this shortfall. Are they going to raise that age again--perhaps to 50 next year? Ah, but there is a success here--the Army did exceed its monthly recruiting goal in December, even though the target goal was much lower than last year. The Army succeeded in meeting its December goals this year, because the numbers were smaller than last years goals. But it is a success that Rummy can tout.

I sit here in wonderment at both the incompetence of Rumsfeld in embarking on a policy that has practically destroyed this country's military, and the sheer, baldface lies and propoganda spin that Rumsfeld regurgitates, when confronted with his incompetence. It is just incredible.

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