Gen. David Petraeus has repeatedly stated that he would like the U.S. to be in Iraq for 9-10 years. “[T]he average counter insurgency is somewhere around a nine or a 10 year endeavour,” he said in July.
But in a press conference yesterday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey indirectly dealt a blow to Petraeus’s plan, stating the Army would continue to be “out of balance” as long as U.S. troops occupy Iraq.
Casey reemphasized that that the “current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply,” leaving the U.S. unable to handle future threats. He elaborated on the long-term commitment it will take from the U.S. to restore our forces to peak capability.
It’s going to take us three or four years and a substantial amount of resources to put ourselves back in balance.
Under the current strain, the Army must “reset,” or restore forces “in a period of persistent conflict.” These resets require a substantial commitment from the U.S. “It takes about $13 billion dollars to reset a 15 brigade size force plus their enablers every year,” he said.
Casey’s “three to four year” time frame, however, depends on the rate of withdrawal from Iraq. Responding to a question about how long after the war would the Army need to continue paying for reseting its forces, Casey stated:
We’ve said two years. And that’s right. The question is, when does the conflict end? … As forces begin to draw down, there’s still going to be a need to reset those forces.
Casey also said he would like to increase dwell-time between deployments and “come off a 15-month deployment” for U.S. troops. Such a measure was proposed by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) last month, but conservatives blocked the amendment, buckling to pressure from the administration.
Ironically, while Petraeus is pushing for a decade-long occupation, he has “agreed the military was stretched too thin, and the Army likely would not be able to respond if trouble arose in another part of the world.”