Center for American Progress

Our Troops Aren’t Ready: Congress Must Act on Army Readiness

Our Troops Aren’t Ready: Congress Must Act on Army Readiness

The House Armed Services Committee panel meeting on Army combat readiness tomorrow must address our overstretched armed forces.

A House Armed Services Committee panel tomorrow will hear from top commanders of all four military services, including Department of the Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody. The members of the subcommittee on military readiness should concentrate on Cody’s answers to their questions, as chances are he’ll have a lot to say about the depleted state of the Army’s 44 combat brigades.

Why? Well, after a four-year-long war of choice in Iraq, our all-volunteer army is stretched to the breaking point. The Center for American Progress detailed the depleted state of our Army units in a report titled “Beyond the Call of Duty: A Comprehensive Review of the Overuse of the Army in the Administration’s War of Choice in Iraq.” Below are some key snapshots from the report:

Army Units Overused

  • Of the Army’s 44 combat brigades, all but the one permanently based in South Korea have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Of those 43 brigades:

– 12 have been deployed once

– 20 have been deployed twice

– 9  have been deployed three times

– 2  have been deployed four times

Soldiers Not Getting Proper Rest and Training

  • Army readiness doctrine mandates that after a unit is deployed for one year it should receive one year of recuperation followed by a year of training before being redeployed to theater. Because of the administration’s mismanagement, the Army has been forced to ignore its own guidelines. Of the 43 brigades deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan:

– 9 have been deployed one year or less at home

– 25 have been deployed with less than two years at home

Tours Extended

  • Of the brigades currently or previously deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, at least 10 have been deployed for longer than 12 months in theater.

Non-Deployed Forces Decimated

  • The equipment situation for the Army and Army National Guard is a disaster because their equipment has been cannibalized to support deployed units.

– 88 percent of the Army National Guard that is in the United States is very poorly equipped, according to the chief of the National Guard, Lt. General H. Steven Blum

Troops Bear the Burden

  • There is a clear cost to the troops as a result of the multiple deployments:

– More than 420,000 troops have deployed more than once; 170,000 Army soldiers have been deployed more than once

– More than 410,000 National Guard and Reservists have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001, for an average of 18 months per mobilization

 – Of these National Guard and Reservists, more than 84,000 have been deployed more than once

– Stop-loss, a policy that prevents troops whose enlistment end date has arrived from leaving, has been imposed on over 50,000 troops

– Soldiers are 50 percent more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder if they serve more than one tour, according to an Army survey

– None of the active Army’s units not deployed are combat ready

And here’s what several current and former senior Army officers have to say in our report about this dismal state of affairs:

The active Army is about broken.”

— Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CBS’ “Face the Nation,” December 17, 2006

To meet combatant commanders’ immediate wartime needs, we pooled equipment from across the force to equip soldiers deploying in harm’s way . . . This practice, which we are continuing today, increases risk for our next-to-deploy units and limits our ability to respond to emerging strategic contingencies.”

— General Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, January 23, 2007

We can’t sustain the [National Guard and Reserves] on the course we’re on.”

— Arnold L. Punaro, Chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, March 2, 2007

For more information on Beyond the Call of Duty or to speak with the authors of the report, please contact:

For TV, Sean Gibbons, Director of Media Strategy
202.682.1611 or [email protected]

For radio, Theo LeCompte, Media Strategy Manager
202.741.6268 or [email protected]

For print, Trevor Kincaid, Deputy Press Secretary
202.741.6273 or [email protected]

For web, Erin Lindsay, Online Marketing Manager
202.741.6397 or [email protected]

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

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