George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld are wrecking the U.S. military machine that was so carefully and painstakingly rebuilt after Vietnam.
Not only has quality control for the officer corps slipped; now the same is happening in the enlisted ranks. Even as recruiters scrape the bottom of the barrel, basic training is no longer doing its weeding job; the proportion of recruits who flunk out has been cut in half. The equipment in the field is deteriorating, and some of the deficit is being made up for by drawing down forward-placed stocks and robbing the units not deployed in Iraq of the stuff they need to train effectively.
A precipitous departure from Iraq could indeed make a horrible situation worse. But absent a draft and a big increase in the procurement budget to replace the missing stuff, it’s not clear how much longer the country can maintain an effective fighting force in Iraq while retaining any capacity to respond militarily anywhere else in the world. As long as we’re there, our other enemies abroad can afford to ignore our sabre-rattling, because we don’t have the muscle to back up our mouth.
I recall a schoolyard taunt in response to a threat: “Yeah? You and what army?” George W. Bush, and whatever poor bastard succeeds him on January 20, 2009, are going to hear that taunt more and more.
We’ve been told this is a dangerous world. Such a world is a bad place to be with a crippled military.
Footnote “Amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics.” Have you noticed how indifferent most of the loudest-mouthed warhawks seem to be to what’s happening to our actual capacity to project our power?