The Center for American Progress has released a new study on the state of our military readiness. The report — “Beyond the Call of Duty: A Comprehensive Review of the Overuse of the Army in the Administration’s War of Choice in Iraq” — undertook a “massive research project to identify, brigade by brigade, the number and duration of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan by the active Army.” The report found a large majority of Army brigades have served multiple tours:
— Brigades with one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan: 12
— Brigades with two tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 20
— Brigades with three tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 9
— Brigades with four tours in Iraq or Afghanistan: 2
The report also points out that a total of 420,000 troops have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan more than once, and over 84,000 National Guard and Reservists have done multiple tours.
The multiple deployments and extended tours of duty are taking a serious toll on our soldiers. Two-thirds of Army brigades are “not ready for wartime missions,” and one Pentagon survey found that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic shortages of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and communications equipment.
In addition, an Army survey conducted last year found “U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder”:
Combat stress is significantly higher among soldiers with at least one previous tour — 18.4 percent, compared with 12.5 percent of those on their first deployment, the survey found. […]
The report also found a doubling of suicides among soldiers serving in the Iraq war from 2004 to 2005, the latest period for which data are available.
President Bush’s escalation strategy will push these overstressed troops even further. “Our Army is in bad shape,” report co-author Lawrence Korb said, “and the surge will only make it worse for the Army and the country.”