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Experts: Not a single Army Combat team left ready to deploy

RAW STORY
Published: Tuesday August 1, 2006

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A group of national security experts formed by Democratic leadership has reported to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) that, "there is not a single non-deployed Army Brigade Combat Team in the United States that is ready to deploy," RAW STORY has learned.

"The bottom line," the group concludes in a letter to Democratic leadership, "is that our Army currently has no ready, strategic reserve."

"More than two-thirds of the Army National Guard's 34 brigades are not combat ready, mostly because of equipment shortages that will cost up to $21 billion to correct, the top National Guard general said Tuesday," the Associated Press reported today.

The letter, as acquired by RAW STORY, follows:

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August 1, 2006

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Democratic Leader United States House of Representatives The Capitol Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Harry Reid Democratic Leader United States Senate The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Leader Pelosi and Leader Reid:

We are writing to express our deep concern about the U.S. Army's current state of readiness and to urge you to take immediate action to address this urgent problem. We have recently learned that:

  • Two thirds of the Army's operating force, active and reserve, is now reporting in as unready.
  • There is not a single non-deployed Army Brigade Combat Team in the United States that is ready to deploy.

The bottom line is that our Army currently has no ready, strategic reserve. Not since the Vietnam era and its aftermath has the Army's readiness been so degraded.

This is particularly dangerous at a time when the United States is engaged in a global effort to counter terrorism and is facing numerous crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran and North Korea. The lack of a ready strategic reserve in our Army weakens our ability to deter undesired actions by these nations, as well as our ability to respond effectively to such actions.

This degraded readiness condition stems from the heavy deployment of combat forces the Army has sustained these past four years. Predictably, this has resulted in accelerated wearout of large quantities of Army equipment, disruptions in training schedules, and strains on meeting recruitment and reenlistment goals. We called attention to this looming problem in an earlier report, "The US Military: Under Strain and at Risk," January 2006, but that report was met with indifference and denial by the administration. This problem can no longer be denied.

Restoring the Army's readiness requires additional funding, but, inexplicably, the administration is underfunding the Army. It has not requested funding adequate to support the roles and missions envisioned for the Army by the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, nor has it provided adequate funding to support the operational demands being placed on the Army today. Remarkably, the Office of Management and Budget recently cut the Army's request for FY06 supplemental appropriations by $4.9 Billion, undermining the Army's efforts to "get well" after substantial equipment degradation and losses in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. We believe this constitutes a serious failure of civilian stewardship of the military.

The administration's willingness to put our nation at such strategic risk is deeply disturbing. And its failure to adequately support the soldiers who are risking their lives for this nation is unacceptable. The readiness degradation that has already occurred could lead to a downward spiral that will take years to correct unless promptly addressed. Under these conditions, it is important for the Congress to step forward to exercise its oversight responsibilities for equipping and training the Armed Services.

Therefore, we call on you to take all necessary steps to address this situation on an urgent basis, including increasing funding to restore the Army's readiness to the levels needed to safeguard this nation's interests at home and abroad. The most immediate opportunity is the FY07 defense appropriations bill that will soon come to the floor of the Senate. We urge you to offer an amendment to increase funding to address the Army's readiness shortfalls. We also suggest that the Armed Services Committees hold hearings to determine the full depth of the readiness problems already manifested in the Army and possibly looming for the Marines.

Sincerely,

William J. Perry Chair, National Security Advisory Group

Madeleine K. Albright Graham T. Allison Samuel R. Berger Ashton B. Carter Wesley K. Clark Thomas E. Donilon Michele A. Flournoy John D. Podesta Susan E. Rice John M. Shalikashvili Wendy R. Sherman Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall James B. Steinberg