“No one is actually at war except the Armed Forces, their US civilian contractors, and the CIA”

General Barry R. McCaffrey’s testimony before the the House Armed Services Committee is an excellent summary of the problems were facing today and the real hit America’s national security is taking. It speaks for itself and it should be read.

From a summary he released as his testimony is not yet available from the Committee (h/t Kat):

…the purpose of my testimony is not to talk about the ongoing tactical operations in CENTCOM — but instead the disastrous state of America’s ground combat forces. Congress has been missing-in-action during the past several years while undebated and misguided strategies were implemented by former Secretary Rumsfeld and his team of arrogant and inexperienced civilian associates in the Pentagon. The JCS failed to protect the Armed Forces from bad judgment and illegal orders. They have gotten us in a terrible strategic position of vulnerability. The Army is starting to crack under the strain of lack of resources, lack of political support and leadership from both the Administration and this Congress, and isolation from the American people who have now walked away from the war.

No one is actually at war except the Armed Forces, their US civilian contractors, and the CIA. There is only rhetoric and posturing from the rest of our government and the national legislature. Where is the shared sacrifice of 300 million Americans in the wealthiest nation in history? Where is the tax supplement to pay for a $12 billion a month war? Where are the political leaders calling publicly for America’s parents and teachers to send their sons and daughters to fight “the long war on terror?” Where is the political energy to increase the size of our Marine Corps and US Army? Where is the willingness of Congress to implement a modern “lend-lease program” to give our Afghan and Iraqi allies the tools of war they need to protect their own people? Where is the mobilization of America’s massive industrial capacity to fix the disastrous state of our ground combat military equipment?

Recent and related post (among many on MountainRunner): If the surge is working, why are we still losing?

More from McCaffrey:


— The combat overload on the Army is having a negative effect on readiness. First time active-duty soldiers will spend more time at war than at home.

— We are encountering a negative effect on the retention of mid- and senior-grade noncommissioned officers. We also are already seeing the impact on the retention of company-grade officers.

— All “fully combat ready” active-duty and reserve combat units are now deployed or deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. No fully-trained national strategic reserve brigades are now prepared to deploy to new combat operations.

— Secretary Gates has publicly stated that the 15 month extension recognizes that “our forces are stretched…there’s no question about that.”

— We have used a back-door draft to keep 70,000 soldiers in the Army with the “stop loss program” beyond their voluntary commitment. We have jerked 20,000 sailors and airmen into ground combat roles and taken them away from their required air and sea power duties. We have recalled as many as 15,000 IRR (individual readiness reserve) — in many cases these people had no current, relevant military skills. They were simply needed as bodies.

— We have called up all of our National Guard enhanced readiness combat brigades at least once for 18 months of combat requirements. The reserve components have been forced to act as an alternate full-time combat extension of our active units with protracted deployments. This is not what they enlisted for — nor is it a sensible use of the national reserve components.


— The mathematics of our extended deployments suggest that we will be forced to call up as many as nine National Guard combat brigades plus required support forces in the coming 12 months for involuntary second combat tours — if we are to re-set the force and create a strategic reserve. (Note that DOD Assistant Secretary Chu states that this is “no big deal.”)

— The second round of involuntary call-ups may begin to topple the weakened National Guard structure which is so critical to US domestic security.

— 88% of non-deployed Army National Guard units are rated as not ready or poorly equipped. The readiness of our National Guard forces is at a historic low.

— However, the Washington Post has reported that the Pentagon is still planning to rely on these unready forces to meet surge requirements.

— The Army Guard/Reserve is anticipated to grow to 20-30 percent of deployed combat forces.

— We are now seeing a high loss rate in both active and reserve components of senior NCOs, West Point graduates, and many other highly- qualified battle leaders.


— The Army is lowering standards to meet enlistment goals and initial entry training standards in order to make manpower requirements. Recruitment will continue to be challenging as the Army tries to power up to add 65,000 permanent troops.

— In 2006, there was almost a 50% increase in waivers of enlistment standards from 2004 — waivers for moral turpitude, drug use, medical issues and criminal records.

— Recruitment from least-skilled category recruits have climbed eight- fold over past 2 years; the percentage of recruits who are high school graduates dropped 13% from ’04 to ’06.

— We are increasing the age of first-time enlistees — we are now enlisting 42 year old soldiers. We should only want soldiers in superb health — from age 18 to about 30 years old. The Army is not push-button warfare — this is brutal, hard business.

— The Promotion rates for officers and NCOs have skyrocketed to replace departing leaders. We are short thousands of officers. We have serious mismatch problems for NCOs.

— We have been forced to use US and foreign contractors to substitute for required military functions. (128,000 contractors in Iraq — includes more than 2000 armed contractor personnel.) Thousands of these brave and dedicated people have been killed or wounded. They perform most of our logistics functions in the combat zone. (Transportation, maintenance, fuel, long-haul communications, food service, contractor operation of computer based command and control, etc.) Under conditions of great danger such as open warfare caused by Iranian or Syrian intervention — they will discontinue operations. Our logistics system is a house of cards.

3 thoughts on ““No one is actually at war except the Armed Forces, their US civilian contractors, and the CIA”

  1. And I’m an example of bullet #2. When I’m asked to go to war without the weapons doctrine says I’m supposed to have, they can kiss….Something to ponder:
    (A senior adviser to the President) said that many like myself are ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
    — Ron Suskind, “Without a Doubt,” New York Times

  2. General McCaffrey is not entirely correct. Lots of people who are neither Armed Forces, contractors or CIA are at war. Much of the blogosphere is at war. The KOSsacks are at war. The Left is at war. The question is, who are they making war on?On 9/12/01 the Commander-in-Chief could have asked for a formal declaration of war against Saudi Arabia and he’d have had it by 9/13. That is not the course he took. He could have nuked Mecca. He could have commenced a thermonuclear ratonnade on 1.2 billion people and the majority of Americans would have supported him. He could have revived the Office of War Information and put all war correspondents in uniform. He could have assumed the dictatorial powers a formal declaration of war allows. He told everybody to go shopping instead. And that saved the economy, which was the kinetic target of the attack.
    He chose to restore normality as quickly as possible. He chose not to mobilize the nation. He lives with the consequences of those choices now, as do we all.
    Anybody who wants to participate in the War of Ideas can. Anybody who wants to provide aid and comfort to American kinetic warfighters can. Any American who wants to provide aid and comfort to the enemy has little to fear. People have choices.

  3. Saudi Arabia is clearly THE number one enemy of the free world – Saudi money continues to fund Jihadi movements and violence world wide.

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