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Top US commando says strain of war limits forces elsewhere

May 5th, 2008 . by TexasFred

WASHINGTON (AP) - The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are making such heavy use of the nation’s Green Berets and other elite warriors that they cannot fulfill their roles in other parts of the world, the military’s top commando told The Associated Press on Monday.

“We’re going to fewer countries, staying for shorter periods of time, with smaller numbers of people than historically we have done,” Adm. Eric T. Olson said in his first interview since becoming commander of U.S. Special Operations Command last July.

Olson, himself a combat veteran, saw little chance that the demand for his special operations forces in Iraq will decline anytime soon. Even as the overall American force there shrinks - from about 158,000 now to about 140,000 by the end of July - the number of special operations forces in the war zone is likely to increase, he said.

More of these specially trained, often secretive forces may be required in Iraq in order to fill a niche role in the development of Iraqi security forces as the number of conventional Army troops goes down, he said.

“Nothing I’ve been told leads me to believe that there will be a reduction in special operations forces in Iraq, and the door is always open for an increase in demand, so we’re just trying to prepare for that the best we can,” Olson said.

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Top US commando says strain of war limits forces elsewhere

I sincerely hope the powers that be are listening, Spec/Ops guys are stretched, that’s one of the reasons there are so many top shelf private contractors out in the field now, our entire military is stretched, and that is a dangerous position to be in.

Special Forces, SEALS, Recon, Rangers and the like are ALL troopers, they can and will fight just like the grunts, when they have to, but that’s not their intent and purpose, it’s called Spec/Ops for a reason, these guys are set up to do things that the average troop will only dream of and civilians think only happens in the movies, garrison life dulls a Spec/Ops warrior, long and drawn out deployments to places like the streets of Baghdad only dull them even more, they have risen above the rather mundane, day to day duties of the regular troops, that’s why they are Spec/Ops.

Our military needs to be expanded but the all volunteer system doesn’t generate the numbers needed, it does, or should I say, did generate a more well educated and highly motivate troop but there’s just not enough of them to go around, the guys and gals we DO have are awesome but they need some relief too, not just the Spec/Ops folks, the grunts, the sand and mud Marines, all of them, you can run a good horse to death, and that is something we can’t afford to have happen.

The Army has lowered it’s standards of acceptance as I understand it, they are overlooking minor arrests and drug charges, they are accepting what was once considered to be a less than desirable candidate, and granted, many of these guys turn out to be great troops, some just need a chance at making a new start, but for the most part you’re not finding guys with college degrees hitting it every morning for PT at Benning, enlisted Infantry can’t draw that caliber of soldier.

I have close personal friends and relatives that are soldiers, some full time, some reservists and some are National Guard troops, Guard that’s doing 50% of the work in Iraq and Afghanistan, National Guard troops, and right now our U.S. Army would be up the creek without a paddle if it weren’t for the Guard and their magnificent troops and officers.

But even our Guard troops are stretched now, some are on their 2nd and 3rd deployments, just like the regular troops, the big difference is, these citizen soldiers make even more of a sacrifice when they deploy to Iraq or other parts of the world, they leave behind their civilian jobs for months at a time, in most cases jobs that pay them and their families a much higher wage and afford them a much more lavish lifestyle, but they and their families make whatever sacrifices they must make for this nation.

But here’s my big question, what do we do when the regular troops are too exhausted to go?? And then our Guard and Reserves are pushed way past any expected limits of human endurance?? What do we do when our depleted forces are so run down that they just don’t have a lot left to give this nation??

And think about this, the Spec/Ops guys are a small force, and they can do some pretty amazing things, but they can’t take up all the slack that we are leaving out there.

It can happen, our guys and gals will give it a 110% effort, but they can run out of gas, and unless our government has some grand scheme to enlist more volunteers, fresh meat so to speak, we’re either going to have to scale back somewhere or risk the loss of even more troops due to sheer mental burnout and physical exhaustion

And when the troops are too tired, too sick, too old or they are suffering from severe PTSD and can’t serve anymore, what then?? Do we expect that the V.A. is going to provide for them and take care of them??

You can read all the rah-rah so-called military support sites you want to, some serve a great purpose, but some are blowing smoke up your lacy bloomers, that’s not going to happen here, I ask the questions some folks are afraid to ask, I call it when others spin and tout the Bush administration as the greatest warfighting group America ever had, well folks, most of us know that’s not the truth, we need to listen to these warriors that return from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, these guys that have dedicated their lives to fighting for this nation, we need to listen when they tell us of the strain, we have to get our forces fresh and at full strength, and it just isn’t going to happen in today’s economy.

There ya go, I said it, it’s ALL about the money, and if you doubt it, you aren’t paying attention, folks don’t soldier for the money, they soldier out of dedication, money keeps the ranks running, and sadly, the all American taxpayer is stretched pretty thin right now too. 

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One Response to “Top US commando says strain of war limits forces elsewhere”

  1. comment number 1 by: Longstreet

    It seems to me there is no end in sight for these wars. Not just in Iraq and Afghanistan. I expect we will open a third front fairly soon in Africa, especially if the Dem’s get their way.

    I agree with what you have said, Fred. Over some years now, I have thought about this and concluded, we are going to have to re-institute the draft, just to have warm bodies what we used to call cannon fodder.

    I am in favor of mandatory military service for ALL American young people, men AND women. It will be hell to get such a bill thru the Congress, but it seems to me, that is where we will eventually wind up.

    Mandatory military service means just that in my lexicon. No deferments for any reason. No choices, such as the Peace Corp instead of the military. You WILL serve in the military. If your health or physical condition is not up to field duty, then you will be placed at a desk, or in the Quartermaster Corp, (Is there still a Quartermaster Corp???) or in some such position as a member of the support troops. That alone would free up a lot of troops for field duty.

    We need more Special Ops guys. Many more.

    The war is going to go on indefinitely. If not in Iraq and Afghanistan, then somewhere else around the globe. I am convinced that we are at the threshold of the longest war in the history of mankind. If we expect to remain a free people, then we are going to have to continue the fight. To do that, we are going to have to have a much larger m military than we have today.

    I know this is not a pretty picture, but, in my estimation, it is accurate or very nearly so.