Obama's Army Only 85% Ready To Fight

:38 PM ET


Have his 10 tours in 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan made Ranger Cory Remsburg an icon of Army overcommitment?

Have his 10 tours in 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan made Ranger Cory Remsburg an icon of Army overcommitment? 

Budget cuts, sequestration and indifference to maintaining what was once "the arsenal of democracy" have led to units that are not deployment-ready and soldiers with weapons their grandfathers could have used.

The standing ovation given at the State of the Union to Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, seriously wounded in an Afghan war that his commander in chief did not believe was winnable, was well deserved.

It also served as a tribute to all the heroes we send into battle, particularly under rules of engagement that often make the proverbial "one hand tied behind your back" a preferable option.

The Iraq and Afghan wars have taken a toll not only in the human terms of our wounded warriors but also on the weapons and training they need to fight. Compounded by a president hostile to military preparedness and unwilling to make the necessary commitment to it, we have a military tired, worn out and unprepared.

Gen. Bob Scales, a retired U.S. Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College who is now a military analyst for Fox News, told Greta Van Susteren the day after the State of the Union of the sad state of U.S. military preparedness and expressed a fear it would lead to more Cory Remsburgs.

"Yeah, it broke my heart," Scales said. "This great guy, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, think of this, Greta: 10 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in 10 years. What does that say about the overcommitment of our Army? And here is a president who uses him as an icon for the State of the Union.

"And yet the very service that he comes from, the Army, has 85% of its brigades not combat-ready. It does not have one single developmental program for a combat system at all. Zero."

Scales went on to describe an army that "has got a mortar that was built in 1931. Its main machine gun was designed in 1919. The helicopters that you saw in the latest movie 'Lone Survivor' were designed and built in 1962. We have weapons in the Army that were used by soldiers' great-grandfathers, and yet there is no program in the Army today to develop new materiel."

Agreeing with Scales' warning on the Army's lack of readiness is no less than Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, the former U.S. top general in Iraq who testified last September before the House Armed Services Committee on the anticipated impact on the Army of the Budget Control Act and sequestration in fiscal year 2014.

The Army, he said then, would be forced to take further cuts from a wartime high of 570,000 soldiers on active duty, 358,000 in the Army National Guard and 205,000 in the Army Reserve to no more than 420,000 in the active Army, 315,000 in the Army National Guard and 185,000 in the Army Reserve.

Odierno told lawmakers if they didn't reverse the Budget Control Act cuts, 85% of brigade combat teams would be ill-prepared for contingency requirements by the end of fiscal 2014. "Additionally, this will result in a 45% reduction in active Army brigade combat teams.

"That means less tanks, less Bradleys, less trucks, less M-16s, less mortars, less artillery systems . . . it impacts all of our workload, because we're getting smaller," he added. "In my view, these reductions will put at substantial risk our ability to conduct even one sustained major combat operation."

Defense is a constitutional imperative, not an optional budget item. We face a rearming Russia and a China testing stealth fighters and hypersonic strike vehicles. There are rogue states like North Korea and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran to deal with and, sorry, Mr. President, resurgent al-Qaida franchises spreading throughout the Arab world and Africa.

The question is whether these challenges will be met by a resolute commander in chief or an unwilling disarmer in chief.

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Showing 8 reactions

commented 2014-02-02 03:45:53 -0500 · Flag
Chris writes:

50% cuts and then another 40%?? that adds up to a military that’s 30% of what it was, pre-cuts.

perhaps a little too dranconian?? sounds sino-compliant to me.

i agree with much of what you write… cut our foreign bases down to ~20, globally. cut massively the bloat in our armed forces. re-position a small fraction of it to police our borders. significantly modernize and harden our blue-water navy and air force (i understand that are become quite antiquated in the systems and materiel employed…so wtf are the billion$ spent on??).

and then employ B.P.s excellent idea — pay for protection (if the price and geo-political mandate on offer is deemed a ‘national interest’).

these GOP stalactites who spit & bray anytime cut to the armed forces are mentioned sicken me. part of the problem for sure.
commented 2014-02-02 03:44:26 -0500 · Flag
Tom writes:

Eisenhower warned against it, & Kennedy used it against (the Missile Gap) Nixon to go on to win, ahh the 60’s the heralded Golden Age of Liberal Rot, Misinformation, permanent Political Actors, the Debasement of the USD and of course the Great Tragedy of Vietnam which Eisenhower steadfastly Refused to get drawn into, of course Kennedy knew better than Ike on that one as well, how many tablets would you like me to fill with the Failed policies and initiatives that flowed out of those Liberal morons in the 60’s We live in the Nightmare world they created Everyday !
commented 2014-02-02 03:42:02 -0500 · Flag
Victor writes:

Agreed – you want our help – here’s our rate card!
commented 2014-02-02 03:40:49 -0500 · Flag
John writes:

now you’re cooking w gas!! I have always liked that idea & have preached it every chance I got from Vito Corleone on down, everyone knows, protection cost money
commented 2014-02-02 03:40:02 -0500 · Flag
B.P. writes:

Great…welcome to the Chinese Century. No thanks. How about cutting it back to a reasonable level (100 bases) and CHARGING the industrialized world for protecting their sea lanes…go from the world’s self-financing (bankrupt) policeman to its pay-for-play Bodyguard. Anyone refusing to pay can defend their own interests…after the initial outrage and reluctance watch as the U.S. Military Industrial Complex actually runs a SURPLUS. Turn our biggest outlay into our best profit-model. It is about TIME! (And I say this living in Europe where generations have grown into adulthood vilifying and disparaging the very men and women – and country – that has allowed them 75 years of Nanny-State Utopia).
commented 2014-02-02 03:38:01 -0500 · Flag
B.S. writes:

Having served in the Navy for 25 years with a last tour in the Pentagon directing the use of about $3.5 billion/year for the research, development, installation, and life cycle support of all weapons system for all surface ships, I contend that we should start with a 50% cut in military spending including a reduction in overseas bases from over 700 to less than 20. A couple of years after the 50%, cut another 40%. At that point we might just have enough military to defend the country, but not enough to even think about policing the world. At that point, we may be able to afford it, something we can’t do today.
commented 2014-02-02 03:36:10 -0500 · Flag
B.S. writes:

The generals and admirals should be cutting the number of troops, the number of bases, and all the other things which don’t support a soldier in the field. But what do they cut? Things that directly affect the readiness of what troops they have. If you only have enough support to make 50% ready, then cut the troops by 50%. If Congress or the White House or whoever won’t allow it, resign and object so that just possibly they will stop their irresponsible behavior. Whatever happened to honor? These military leaders have been corrupted. They say nothing about rules of engagement which directly cause casualties on the battlefield by a failure to support them with enough firepower. I would resign my commission before I would send one man out under the present rules. I note that Secretary Gates did not resign over that issue and neither did any general or admiral.
commented 2014-02-02 03:35:22 -0500 · Flag
V.M. writes:

In think there is a distinct difference between readiness and how the “readiness” is deployed…..the Middle East seems to be doing a good job of killing each other…