- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

The White House has created an “Iraq Stabilization Group” to be run by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice in a major reorganization of the reconstruction effort.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell continues to reword a new United Nations resolution in an attempt to gain more foreign troops and money for Iraq. Both these moves indicates a downgrading of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon in ways that are disturbing. The State Department bureaucracy has been markedly uncomfortable with President George W. Bush’s strong leadership and “unilateralist” regard for the national interest, which it attributes to Mr. Rumsfeld’s influence.

Yet, unity of command and a clear vision are essential. Examining past reconstruction efforts in the new issue of the Army War College journal Parameters, Nadia Schadlow argues “central to strategic victory in all wars fought by the United States has been the creation of a favorable political order, a process overseen and administered by U.S. military forces.” While the new White House group may be an effort to put disparate agencies into a common harness, bringing the U.N. into the mix renders any notion of unity problematic and risks American war aims.

Mr. Rumsfeld has no one to blame but himself for the turn of events. Mr. Rumsfeld is a gifted strategist, but as a “cheap hawk” he has been unwilling to commit sufficient resources to ensure success.

Secretary Rumsfeld came into office proclaiming a new paradigm of “decisive warfare” defined as the ability to march on an enemy’s capital and overthrow its regime. This paradigm goes beyond the failure of the United States to march on Baghdad in 1991, it is a refutation of the indecisive “limited war” doctrine that led to failure in Vietnam. In carrying out this strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld initially weathered the criticism of retired military officers (serving as outlets for concerns within the high command) that not enough American troops had been sent into action.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s glory was but fleeting, as ambushes and terrorist attacks filled the press with stories of American casualties and civil unrest. Though only pinpricks so far, further violence is encouraged by signs of irresolution. Begging the U.N. for help sends a message the United States does not have what it takes to fulfill the leadership role it has assumed.

The problem is the Bush administration has been struggling to fight a series of battles around the world using only the downsized military left by the Clinton administration. The same 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review that proclaimed the “decisive war” concept acknowledged that the “two-war paradigm” that had supposedly guided U.S. force planning in the 1990s was a myth. Yet, no steps have been taken to correct the situation and rebuild American strength.

On the same day it was announced that the U.S. would go back to the U.N., the Congressional Budget Office reported, “The Army does not have enough active component forces to simultaneously maintain the occupation at its current size, limit deployments to one year and sustain all of its other commitments.”

This year, 24 of the Army’s 33 active brigades were deployed for at least some time overseas. At the end of July, the Army reported to Congress that 232,000 of its 480,000 troops were deployed in 120 countries. In addition, 19 of 24 active duty Marine Corps infantry battalions, and four of nine reserve Marine battalions, were serving outside the United States.

As of Oct. 1, total Reserve and National Guard personnel called to active duty was 169,279. Of these, Army National Guard and Army Reserve accounted for 127,208, with 14,286 more being Marines. A new order was issued Sept. 8 requiring 12-month deployment tours in addition to any other time required to train or debrief. Many Guard and Army Reserve troops could have their yearlong mobilizations extended for up to six months.

But these part-time soldiers are not a long-term solution to an undermanned regular army, and prolonged call-ups will affect retention and recruitment. It was the specter of not being able to maintain current commitments, let alone have sufficient fresh units ready if a new crisis erupted, that convinced the Joint Chiefs of Staff more foreign troops were needed in Iraq, even if it meant going to the U.N.

In 1990, the Army had 18 divisions. President George H.W. Bush reduced the Army to 14 divisions. President Bill Clinton cut it further to 10. The last time the Army had only 10 divisions was just before the Korean War. When Gen. Eric Shinseki retired as Army chief of staff in June, he warned, “Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division Army.”

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing that same month, Chairman Duncan Hunter, California Republican and a former Army Ranger and Vietnam veteran, voiced his support for adding two divisions to the Army’s order of battle. But Mr. Rumsfeld still opposes the idea.

The CBO study found “about 32,000 to 65,000 Army active-duty positions could be converted to civilian positions,” thus freeing up troops for assignment to combat or combat-support units. Such contracting out of functions would cost the Pentagon the wages and benefits of the replacement civilian workers, but would provide a quicker fix than trying to enlist and train new Army recruits for additional divisions. The world is full of challenges, and the ranks of the Army need to be filled to meet them.

William R. Hawkins is senior fellow for national security studies at the U.S. Business and Industry Council.

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