WASHINGTON - Strained by the demands of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan there is a significant risk that the U.S. military won't be able to quickly and fully respond to yet another crisis, according to a new report to Congress.
The assessment, done by the nation's top military officer, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represents a worsening from a year ago, when that risk was rated as moderate.
The report is classified, but on Monday senior defense officials, speaking on condition on anonymity, confirmed the decline in overall military readiness. And a report that accompanied Pace's review concluded that while the Pentagon is working to improve its warfighting abilities, it "may take several years to reduce risk to acceptable levels."
Pace's report comes as the U.S. is increasing its forces in Iraq to quell escalating violence in Baghdad. And top military officials have consistently acknowledged that the repeated and lengthy deployments are straining the Army, Marine Corps and reserve forces and taking a heavy toll on critical warfighting equipment.
Now then, what does this really tell us? As I've said many times, when you see a report about some classified military document leaked by "senior officials" you have to ask two very important questions: who leaked the information and what is the motive?
There are several possibilities. It could be aimed at our enemies (i.e. Iran) as a sort of red herring or it could be that certain generals are doing what they can to sabotage any possible escalation of the war on terror. You know, the Colin Powell types who love to build up a big army but hate to get it dirty.
Beware the leakers who wish to control popular opinion.