President Bush will announce today his plan to decrease troop size and tour of duty lengths per the Washington Post. General Petraeus’ testimony on Capitol Hill this week seems to have left an impression with Bush.
I will honestly believe this when I see it happening with my own two eyes.
From the Washington Post (free registration required):
President Bush plans to announce today that he will cut Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months, returning rotations to where they were before last year’s troop buildup in an effort to alleviate the tremendous stress on the military, administration officials said.
The move is in response to intense pressure from service commanders who have expressed anxiety about the toll of long deployments on their soldiers and, more broadly, about the U.S. military’s ability to confront unanticipated threats. Bush will announce the decision during a national speech, in which aides said he will also embrace Army Gen. David H. Petraeus’s plan to indefinitely suspend a drawdown of forces.
The bottom line seems to be that after pulling out the extra forces Bush sent last year, the United States will keep about 140,000 troops in Iraq at least through the November presidential election. In the short term, the debate in Washington instead will focus more intently on trade-offs at home, including the strain on the armed forces and the Treasury.
The elimination of 15-month tours will restore deployments to an equal balance of one year in the war zone followed by one year at home. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates extended the tours almost exactly a year ago to provide enough forces for Bush’s “surge” of 20,000 additional combat troops and 8,000 support troops. But Army leaders have complained about the strain.
Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s outgoing vice chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that the Army is “out of balance” and that the current demand for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan “exceeds the sustainable supply.” He added that “soldiers, families, support systems and equipment are stretched and stressed by the demands of lengthy and repeated deployments, with insufficient recovery time.”
“Stretched” to say the least. Where do you see this most notably? How about when there is a natural disaster such as flooding or tornado clean-up and there is little of the National Guard left to go around. It’s the same scenario with boarder duty right now. A lot of land to keep an eye on, little troops to assign down south.
Being around the military for as long as I have, I just never count on anything until it actually happens. I never understood the whole 15 month tour. It’s bad enough to have to stay focused on your mission for a year, but 15 months? I only hope that Bush’s plan is true and followed through as promised.
Please, please stop by America Supports You and send a message to the troops.