These are difficult days for America’s army. It is badly overstretched and is having great difficulty recruiting and retaining the right kind of people. The army has about 160,000 troops, or more than half of its combat brigades, deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan – 135,000, or 17 brigades, in Iraq alone. It cannot keep this number of troops in these two combat zones beyond March 2008 unless it violates its social contract with its soldiers even more egregiously. According to this contract, soldiers should be deployed for no more than one year and should spend two years at home for every year in a combat zone. To maintain the surge in Iraq, soldiers are already spending 15 months there and only a year at home before being sent back.
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