Washington, DC— U.S.Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Michele Flournoy, President of the Center for a New American Security, held a press conference call to discuss this week’s Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing on the state of our Army and our military’s readiness. The war in Iraq has stretched our forces dangerously thin, and it will take a major change in policy to rebuild our military.
The war in Iraq has stretched our forces dangerously thin, and it will take decades to rebuild our military. By taking his eye off the ball, the President has needlessly impaired our military’s ability to fight threats in places like Afghanistan, where the Taliban has shown increased strength and capability, and the tribal areas of Pakistan, where al Qaeda has started to regroup.
“Over the last seven years the readiness of the U.S. Army has deteriorated significantly,” said Reed, a former Army Captain and a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The 15-month tours have put huge burdens on individual units and the families of soldiers who are deploying. It has not only increased their length of time in the combat zone, but has decreased their dwell time back home as they have to train and reequip and get ready to go again. If we are going to adequately address our security needs now and in the future we need to rebalance our force structure and reset our equipment and we need to do it quickly. And it starts by reducing our footprint in Iraq and beginning a phased redeployment of our troops.”
Said Flournoy: “The men and women of our armed forces and their families are making enormous sacrifices every day to defend this nation. But today’s Army is under enormous strain due operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both the readiness of the force and its ability to recruit and retain quality volunteers are now at risk. The U.S. Army no longer has a ready strategic reserve to protect U.S. interests should another crisis arise, and we are at risk of stretching the all-volunteer Army to the breaking point.”