Yeah, sure, I'll take 12 months over 15 months any day, but the fact remains that our policies in Iraq - the Mission that Has Not Yet Been Accomplished - is still requiring men and women to go over again and again.
GEN Casey tries, I think, to sound magnanimous about this, but the statement he gives the AP gives me pause:
Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, said that as the number of brigades in Iraq comes down from 20 to 15 over the next several months, officials will be able to begin increasing the amount of time soldiers spend at home between tours.
But Casey cautioned that he is "not going public with that or final with that until I'm sure we're not going back'' on it.
So, if he's not going public, why in hell's he talking to AP about it?
And it seems that our intrepid reporter from AP didn't ask the pertinent questions regarding our previous commitments in Afghanistan (anyone remember that?), or the fact that President Bush seems hellbent on firing up yet another war with Iran. Let's see what that does for rotation schedules, General!
America's current rotations are barely tenable as is - I know of a Navy officer doing ground duty in Iraq because there basically wasn't an Army/USMC person to fill that billet - and now GWB is doing all he can to falsely ratchet up the stakes in the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, as evidenced last week.
With the new, contrived threats showing up on the military's radar screen - and sooner rather than later, methinks - I'm gonna go back to a long-held position of mine and see if it passes the IV test:
(From the AP story)
Plans are to increase the number of the active-duty Army, Army Guard and Army Reserve by 74,000 overall, with the active-duty force growing by 65,000 to a total of 547,000. In October, top Army leaders said they planned to move faster to increase the size of the force - adding the full 74,000 soldiers by 2010, two years sooner than originally planned.
OK...America's fighting two wars. One's got a pretty large contingent in one nation (Iraq, about 130,000 troops, plus contractors, diplomats, engineers, etc.).
The other war, the GWOT (or the RGWOT, Real Global War On Terror, as Brandon Friedman of VoteVets accurately calls it) requires about 30,000 US troops plus attendant CIV personnel in Afghanistan, plus others (hard to tell how many thousands) deployed worldwide in fights against Abu Sayyaf and other anti-US groups.
Keep in mind the US is done with one surge in Iraq, and is trying to mount another in Afghanistan (the "oh, yeah, that war!" response).
The current state of the Army and USMC - end-strength, equipment, OPTEMPO (operational tempo) and strain on soldiers/Marines and their families is running those services into the dirt.
And the Navy and USAF, I fear, are not far behind.
All the while, our nation - involved in two separate and distinct wars - chooses to increase the Army by a paltry 74,000 Soldiers over three years? While the specter of a new war hangs over America's head?
Seriously? War with Iran will force America to institute a full-scale, no-holds-barred draft. As in all males 18 to 45. Because it won't just be Iran that America fights - it will be World War III. The implications are global.
GEN Casey, SecDef Gates and (most of all) the President are more out of touch than we really realize.
It's indicative, yet again, as to how little planning went into the Iraq War. It's coming back to bite our nation - you and me - in the butt.