Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tomgram: Nick Turse on 12-Pentagon Steps to a Misfit Military

Recently, the Washington Post, and then the New York Times, reported a top-secret assessment by the Marines' Chief of Intelligence that focused on the catastrophic situation of his undermanned Corps in the heartlands of Iraq's Sunni insurgency. He concluded, according to the Post's Tom Ricks, that "the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there."

Couldn't get much worse, you'd think. Then, Major General Richard C. Zilmer, the senior Marine commander, decided to "dispute" both news accounts. His argument, according to Michael Gordon of the Times was that "he had sufficient forces to carry out his mission but that the mission did not include defeating the insurgency."

Come again? Fortunately, in a front page piece, "Growing Concern: Terrorist Havens in ‘Failed States'" on the possibility that Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan might all turn into the kinds of terrorist safe territories that only Afghanistan had been prior to September 11, 2001, the Wall Street Journal's Yochi J. Dreazen and Philip Shishkin sum up the latest "desired endstate" of the Bush administration this way: "U.S. officials acknowledge their main goal in Iraq now is to prevent it from turning into a place run by fundamentalists who export terrorism to the region."

Um, come again? That's the "strategy for victory"? Well, what can you expect from an overstretched empire enmeshed in a grinding, hopeless set of wars, with increasingly strained ground forces. The U.S. Army, its equipment wearing down and with almost no nondeployed combat-ready brigades at hand, now has "fully two-thirds" of its active forces officially classified as "not ready for combat." (And that's considered good shape, compared to the state of the completely overstressed National Guard.)

With military stress and strain in mind, it's great to welcome Nick Turse back to the writing ranks of Tomdispatch. He's re-upped after a stint co-reporting and co-authoring a powerful series on American war crimes in Vietnam at the Los Angeles Times. Below he gives new meaning to the military recruitment side of imperial overstretch. Tom

Dirty Dozen

The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Military of Misfits
By Nick Turse

Military recruiting in 2006 has been marked by upbeat pronouncements from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claims of success by the White House, propaganda releases by the Pentagon, and a spate of recent press reports touting the way the military has made its wo/manpower goals.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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