It's not a comma in the sandbox
Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times
Sgt. Ben Brody along Warriors Walk at Fort Stewart,
where Eastern redbud trees memorialize the Army
Third Infantry Division’s dead in Iraq.
Unit Makes Do as Army Strives to Plug Gaps
By DAVID S. CLOUD
Published: September 25, 2006
FORT STEWART, Ga. — The pressures that the conflict in Iraq is putting on the Army are apparent amid the towering pine trees of southeast Georgia, where the Third Infantry Division is preparing for the likelihood that it will go back to Iraq for a third tour.
Members of the Third Infantry Division have been conducting training exercises in preparation for a third deployment to Iraq. But equipment for the training is short, and the time for it has been reduced.
Col. Tom James, who commands the division’s Second Brigade, acknowledged that his unit’s equipment levels had fallen so low that it now had no tanks or other armored vehicles to use in training and that his soldiers were rated as largely untrained in attack and defense.
The rest of the division, which helped lead the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and conducted the first probes into Baghdad, is moving back to full strength after many months of being a shell of its former self.
But at a time when Pentagon officials are saying the Army is stretched so thin that it may be forced to go back on its pledge to limit National Guard deployment overseas, the division’s situation is symptomatic of how the shortages are playing out on the ground.
The enormous strains on equipment and personnel, because of longer-than-expected deployments, have left active Army units with little combat power in reserve. The Second Brigade, for example, has only half of the roughly 3,500 soldiers it is supposed to have. The unit trains on computer simulators, meant to recreate the experience of firing a tank’s main gun or driving in a convoy under attack.
“It’s a good tool before you get the equipment you need,” Colonel James said. But a few years ago, he said, having a combat brigade in a mechanized infantry division at such a low state of readiness would have been “unheard of.”
Other than the 17 brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan, only two or three combat brigades in the entire Army — perhaps 7,000 to 10,000 troops — are fully trained and sufficiently equipped to respond quickly to crises, said a senior Army general.
Most other units of the active-duty Army, which is growing to 42 brigades, are resting or being refitted at their home bases. But even that cycle, which is supposed to take two years, is being compressed to a year or less because of the need to prepare units quickly to return to Iraq.
After coming from Iraq in 2003, the Third Infantry Division was sent back in 2005. Then, within weeks of returning home last January, it was told by the Army that one of its four brigades had to be ready to go back again, this time in only 11 months. The three other brigades would have to be ready by mid-2007, Army planners said.
Yet almost all of the division’s equipment had been left in Iraq for their replacements, and thousands of its soldiers left the Army or were reassigned shortly after coming home, leaving the division largely hollow. Most senior officers were replaced in June.
When Bush said Iraq was a comma, he was speaking in dog whistle to the fundies. It comes from a saying "Never put a period where God puts a comma".Which means things will get better. Which is, of course, insane.
Well, shit, they're now deploying units with no weapons and less training. The Iranians are taking careful notes. Why? Because when the Great Shia uprising takes place, they want to know which units to hit first. Or direct the Shia to attack.
The Third ID is going to get to Iraq and use clapped out equipment because they had to leave their equipment in Iraq.Sorry.Oh, and the Iraq auxillaries can't function.
posted by Steve @ 7:55:00 AM