For most of the year, Army officials have been complaining that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are chewing up their money, their gear, and their troops. Now, Army chief of staff General Peter Schoomaker has made the loudest, most public plea yet.
As it currently stands, the Army is incapable of generating and sustaining the required forces to wage the Global War on Terror and fulfill all other operational requirements without its components - active, Guard, and Reserve - surging together...At this pace, without recurrent access to the reserve components, through remobilization, we will break the active component.As the Washington Post notes, he's calling for "expanding the [active duty] force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year [to a total of 512,000] and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops."
Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, issued his most dire assessment yet of the toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the nation's main ground force. At one point, he banged his hand on a House committee-room table, saying the continuation of today's Pentagon policies is "not right."In particularly blunt testimony, Schoomaker said the Army began the Iraq war "flat-footed" with a $56 billion equipment shortage and 500,000 fewer soldiers than during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Echoing the warnings from the post-Vietnam War era, when Gen. Edward C. Meyer, then the Army chief of staff, decried the "hollow Army," Schoomaker said it is critical to make changes now to shore up the force for what he called a long and dangerous war.Most observers say Schoomaker's dire forecasts are on the money, and a long time coming. But Spencer Ackerman, for one, says the chief of staff "deserves no praise for the warning he issued yesterday."In February, when Rumsfeld had to go to the Hill to refute charges of breaking the Army, he brought Schoomaker along for insulation:
General Schoomaker points out that he remembers what a "broken" Army looks like when he was a young officer... The difference between that Army and the professional and motivated force we have today could not be more dramatic.