Thursday, February 22, 2007

How to Reach 21,500

by Ken Houghton

Change the rules in midstream, add more drug users, and, most of all, disrupt lives and leave the States less able to manage an emergency:
National Guard officials told state commanders in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio last month that while a final decision had not been made, units from their states that had done previous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan could be designated to return to Iraq next year between January and June, the officials said.

The unit from Oklahoma, a combat brigade with one battalion currently in Afghanistan, had not been scheduled to go back to Iraq until 2010, and brigades from the other three states not until 2009. Each brigade has about 3,500 soldiers.

Indiana and/or Oklahoma may just have become "in play" for 2008.

But, don't worry, it doesn't mean the troops will be any better supplied:
Capt. Christopher Heathscott, a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard, said the state’s 39th Brigade Combat Team was 600 rifles short for its 3,500 soldiers and also lacked its full arsenal of mortars and howitzers.

And even the Guard leaders realise this is not a good long-term plan:
Of particular concern, he said, is the possibility that the prospects of going to Iraq next year could cause some Arkansas reservists not to re-enlist this year. Over the next year roughly one-third of the soldiers in the 39th will have their enlistment contracts expire or be eligible for retirement, Captain Heathscott said.

After three decades of success managing a volunteer Army, the past four years appear to not only be destroying the superstructure, but the infrastructure as well.

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