Yesterday, former Defense Secretary William Perry released a study that found that “the strain of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan is endangering the nation.” A copy of the report is available here. The Perry study came on the heels of an official Pentagon study that came to a similar conclusion. Even the top U.S. commander in Iraq recognizes the military is overstretched.
Everyone seems to acknowledge the problem except Donald Rumsfeld. The Secretary of Defense defiantly claimed: “The force is not broken. “¦ I just can’t imagine someone looking at the United States armed forces today and suggesting that they’re close to breaking. That’s just not the case.”
Rumsfeld argues that the armed forces recruiting goals have been met for the past seven months. But that paints a very deceiving picture of what’s truly going on. Here’s a key statistic from the Perry report:
A year from now, the combination of fewer than needed recruits and fewer than needed reenlistments in the junior grades could result in a significant “hollowing” and imbalance in the Army, both active and reserve. Based on DoD’s monthly manpower report by grade, the Army already has a deficit of some 18,000 personnel in its junior enlisted grades (E1-E4). Even if it meets its recruiting and retention goals, the Army is projected to be short some 30,000 soldiers (not including stop loss) by the end of FY2006.
Junior enlisted officers, those who are taking on the brunt of the physical fighting, are not reenlisting at nearly the same rate as senior officers. This spells long-term trouble for the Army. What’s Rumsfeld’s response to this damaging information? Claim ignorance and blame Clinton. Rumsfeld, 1/25/06:
It’s interesting — I haven’t read the report. I’ll have to do that. Yeah, I mean, these are the people, basically — who did that report — who were here in the ’90s. And what we’re doing is trying to adjust what was left us to fit the 21st century.
Perhaps if Rumsfeld reads the report, he’ll realize the reenlistment problem is a result of Iraq, not Clinton. Sadly for our troops, they continue to go to war with the Secretary of Defense they have, not the Secretary of Defense they wish to have.