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Army study: Lack of GIs may force cut in mission goals

Here’s where things stand on the recruiting front for the Army. With only three months to go in fiscal 2005…
* The Army is 40 percent short of its goal of recruiting about 80,000.
* To meet that threshold, it would have to exceed its recruiting goals by an average of 2,600 individuals in each month.
* In June it exceeded its monthly goal by 507 recruits (the goal was just 5,650 new troops, the second-lowest total for the year).
* The Army failed to meet its recruiting goals in each of the preceding four months.

To fan the flames, the title of this internal report really says it all: “Stretched Thin: Army Forces for Sustained Operations.” They need more time to study it, they say. How about: Rummy’s policy is a f-a-i-l-u-r-e. Does that require additional review?

Numerous critics and outside defense policy groups have warned that the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has taxed the Army so badly that it will have difficulty meeting any new crises elsewhere, but the new assessment comes from an in-house undertaking prepared by the RAND Corp.’s Arroyo Center, the Army’s federally funded research institute.

“The challenge the Army faces is profound,” senior RAND analyst Lynn Davis, lead author of the report, said in a statement accompanying the study. “Any approach is fraught with risks and uncertainties, along with significant costs and some possible changes in the Army’s long-term goals.”

Even as the Army was studying the report, it announced Monday that it is augmenting its troop strength in Afghanistan this month with a battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division that just returned from Iraq in March.

…The report–“Stretched Thin: Army Forces for Sustained Operations”–was to have been released Monday, but a RAND spokeswoman said it had been postponed to allow “further review” by the Army. Nonetheless, Davis indicated the report raises significant questions about the Army’s future and the burdens the Pentagon and taxpayers will have to bear to field adequate forces.

The study further calls into question the Pentagon’s ability to carry out its policy of maintaining the capacity to fight two major regional wars simultaneously while also providing troops for national security at home and the war on terrorism.

Thanks to House Blender Paul for the pointer.

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