Army Data Shows Constraints on Troop Increase Potential

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 6:00 am
Army Lt. Gen. Stanely McChrystal (defenselink.mil)

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal (defenselink.mil)

If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available U.S. Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency and further stressing a force that has seen repeated combat deployments since 2002.

According to information compiled by the U.S. Army for The Washington Independent about the deployment status of active-duty and National Guard Army brigades, as of December 2009, there will be about 50,600 active-duty soldiers, serving in 14 combat brigades, and as many as 24,000 National Guard soldiers available for deployment. All other soldiers and National Guardsmen will either be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan already or ineligible to deploy while they rest from a previous deployment.

[Security1]Obama is expected to announce a decision on an escalation of troop levels for Afghanistan shortly after returning from his trip to Asia on Friday, which would be the second such escalation of his young presidency. That decision follows a request issued in September from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, in which McChrystal delivered the Obama administration with a palette of different troop-level options to turn around a faltering war effort. While White House officials have cautioned reporters that Obama has made no final choice on the size of a troop increase, a widely re-reported McClatchy story claimed that the administration was likely to send 34,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, which would raise U.S. troop levels in the eight-year war to an all-time high of 102,000. It is likely that Obama would include members of the other military services, especially the Marines, in any troop increase, but the vast majority of any new troop complement will come from the Army.

The shortage of available combat brigades means that an escalation of between 30,000 and 40,000 troops is “not realistic,” said Lawrence Korb, a former senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration who now studies defense issues for the liberal Center for American Progress. To send practically all available soldiers into one of the two wars would leave the U.S. with “no reserve in case you had a problem in Korea.”

BCT Deployment Dates -12 Nov 09 pt 2c

Click to Enlarge: Army National Guard combat brigade deployment data. (Source: U.S. Army)

Obama would have something of a cushion, but not much, in the early months of 2010. An additional five brigades will finish their 12 months of so-called “dwell time” at home between deployments by April 2010, providing an additional 22,600 troops, but by that time, about 10,200 troops will be scheduled to leave Afghanistan, leaving available a net gain of 12,400. More brigades become available in the summer and fall, although others currently in Afghanistan will be ending their scheduled deployments then as well. Under current Pentagon policy, dwell time for the National Guard varies, but can be no shorter than two years, and so it is possible but not certain that two National Guard brigades composed of 6,800 National Guard soldiers might be available for deployment by March 2010 as well, beyond the 24,000 theoretically available now. Pentagon leaders had hoped to extend dwell time this year, but that was before McChrystal’s request for additional troops.

BCT Deployment Dates -12 Nov 09c

Click to Enlarge: U.S. Army combat brigade deployment information. (Source: U.S. Army)

Furthermore, not all brigades are the same. Some are built around heavy equipment like tanks, while others are primarily light, mobile infantrymen. According to a September report by the Institute for the Study of War, a pro-escalation think-tank in Washington, no so-called “heavy” brigades have been sent to Afghanistan to date, a condition likely owing to Afghanistan’s lack of paved roads, high elevations and uneven rural terrain, all of which are inhospitable to tanks and other heavy vehicles. But of the 14 brigades available as of December 2009, five of them are heavy brigades, according to the information provided by the Army to TWI, accounting for 19,000 of the available 50,600 active-duty soldiers. There is precedent in Iraq for re-tasking heavy brigades as light brigades by deploying them without their heavy vehicles, as the Institute for the Study of War’s report points out. But there is no precedent for such a thing in Afghanistan. If the Obama administration decides not to re-task heavy brigades as light brigades, the pool of active-duty soldiers immediately available for Afghanistan shrinks to 31,600 soldiers.

Andrew Krepinevich, the president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defense think-tank in Washington, told TWI that an escalation of between 30,000 and 40,000 troops required an inescapable calculation of risk. “The worst thing in the world is to have these people over there getting shot at, not being able to make progress, and the situation [in Afghanistan] just sort of gradually eroding, so it’s that versus the risk of breaking the force, [or] the risk that you’re not prepared for another contingency,” said Krepinevich. “So how do you weigh those risks? There is no formula or algorithm that’s going to give you the answer. It’s going to have to be a judgment call.”

McChrystal wrote in a late August assessment that the U.S. faces a “decisive” moment in Afghanistan. “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible,” McChrystal wrote nearly three months ago. While deployment times vary, no brigade can be deployed to Afghanistan overnight, raising questions about how much time remains to turn the war around even if McChrystal gets the 40,000 troops that various news accounts have stated — without official confirmation — that the general wants.

Krepinevich testified on Tuesday before a House Armed Services subcommittee in favor of McChrystal’s proposed counterinsurgency strategy, and appeared to lend support to a troop increase of roughly 40,000. He said that recent steps taken by both the Bush and Obama administrations to increase the total size of the Army and Marine Corps would mitigate against prolonged deployments. “Even if Gen. McChrystal’s request is honored by the president, the combined total of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq would still be significantly below the levels reached during the Surge,” he told the panel.

But the 2007 troop surge in Iraq was a one-time increase of five combat brigades that ended with those brigades’ tours. By contrast, a troop increase to implement McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy is more likely to be a sustained escalation lasting beyond the tours of the initially deployed brigades. And the brigades themselves called upon to implement the troop increase will have already served numerous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the 14 active-duty brigades that will be available for deployment in December, five have already served three tours abroad since 2002 and four have already served two. If either the 3rd brigade of the 101st Airborne Division or the 1st brigade of the 10th Mountain Division are asked to deploy to Afghanistan, it will be their fifth tour since 2002.*

Krepinevich said the stress on soldiers called upon to serve repeated tours was a problem for a troop escalation. “You really have to start worrying about greater incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder, [and] that we’re already seeing in terms of the the NCO corps,” he said, referring to non-commissioned officers like sergeants who play crucial leadership roles in enforcing soldier discipline and standards. “Yes, they’re experienced but they’re just so worn out. And that has to be a concern.”

That concern was echoed by Bing West, a Reagan-era senior Pentagon official who traveled to Afghanistan in October. “There is near-unanimous agreement that deployments on the lines over eight months are too long,” West reported for the blog Small Wars Journal on Nov. 1, citing interviews with “dozens” of soldiers and Marines. “Aggressive patrolling decreases as the length of tour increases. The troops wear down.”

Korb — who, like Krepinevich, supports the Afghanistan war — said a more realistic troop increase for Afghanistan would be 10,000 soldiers until the drawdown of troops from Iraq “begins in earnest.” There are currently 120,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq, almost twice the total in Afghanistan, though Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, told Congress in September that he plans to reduce that total to around 50,000 by August 30, 2010. Alternatively, Korb said, Obama could speed up the pace of redeployment out of Iraq in order to relieve the stress on the force, a point echoed by Krepinevich in an interview with TWI. But under current Pentagon policy, soldiers would still need to receive at least 12 months of recuperation time back in the U.S. before potential assignment in Afghanistan.

The chief of staff of the Army, Gen. George Casey, whose institutional role includes protecting the health of the force, endorsed a troop escalation earlier this month. “I believe that we need to put additional forces into Afghanistan to give Gen. McChrystal the ability to both dampen the successes of the Taliban while we train the Afghan civilian forces,” he told NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Nov. 8. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, also has responsibilities for balancing the needs of the Afghanistan war with those of the overall military and threats to the U.S. worldwide. He told Congress in September that more troops were “probably” needed in Afghanistan as well.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a key swing vote in the Afghanistan debate, has told Congress earlier this year that he would seek to lengthen dwell time for the Army in the coming years. In January, he testified that he and Army chiefs wanted to extend dwell time to 15 months at home for every 12 months deployed by October 2010, but in July, he revised that plan and indicated that the Army might be able to shift to 15-month dwell times by summer 2010. But Gates reiterated in July a commitment to ultimately giving soldiers at least two years of dwell time by 2011. The Army public-affairs officer who released this information to TWI clarified that no unit was available unless it had ended a previous deployment by at least November 2008, indicating a continued 12-month dwell time policy.

That proposal was devised before McChrystal’s request for additional forces, and it is unclear how the fulfillment of that request will impact the dwell-time policy, if at all. Spokesmen for both Gen. McChrystal and Sec. Gates did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

*Update, 4:35 p.m., Nov. 19: Maj. Stephen Platt, public affairs officer for the 3rd brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, writes to inform me that the brigade has indeed been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in “early 2010″ for what will be its fifth combat tour since 2002. I missed a press release from the Pentagon in July announcing the deployment, and word of the upcoming tour was not included in the information provided to me by the U.S. Army. I appreciate Maj. Platt’s clarification.

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About afghanistan, pakistan, afghan strategy, barack obama, taliban, afghan war | Find me About
Pingback posted November 18, 2009 @ 8:57 am

[...] If President Obama orders an additional 30000 to 40000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available US Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency …Read Original Story: Army Data Shows Contraints on Troop Increase Potential – The Washington I… [...]


Hawaiianstyle
Comment posted November 18, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

If there are no more troops for deployment to “other trouble spots” maybe we will stop fighting unnecessary wars.

Terrorism is a crime against humanity and should be the province of local, national and international police forces not the military.


scampy1
Comment posted November 18, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

Why is this war in Afghanistan necessary?
No Afghans or Taliban have carried out terrorist attacks on western countries.
The 9/11 terrorists were Saudi's plus one Egyptian,from dictatorships kept in power by the US
They trained to fly the airplanes in the US.
The London bombers were home grown of Pakistani origin who trained in England.
The Madrid bombers were of north African origin who trained in Spain.
Why are you killing Afghan women and children?
Why is Britain allowing large numbers of these so called terrorists to enter as immigrants building the Muslim version of the Trojan horse?


SPECOPS
Comment posted November 18, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

The Army needs to cut back on it's counterinsurgency mission and swich to a counter-terrorism mission, send in S.E.A.L Teams,Delta, Army Special Forces to hunt down Bushes frend Bin L.

Msgt Moore/18D


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Pingback posted November 18, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

[...] or May? Well, at least it’s not like we have a dearth of troops for another resource-intensive war or [...]


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Pingback posted November 18, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

[...] Afghanistan:  Go read Spencer Ackerman’s story on why the U.S. doesn’t have the troops to meet McCrystal’s request for 40,000 new [...]


triathlon
Comment posted November 18, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

KOREA AND THE DYING AMERICAN-ISRAELI EMPIRE!

Japan was the foothold in Asia, after [WWII] World War Two the Victors sat down and divided things up at the Yalta Talks and got it all wrong, dividing countries, and to this day the effects are still being felt.

Korea was divided into two sections one Communist the North the other was to be Democratic, dividing families, separating what should never have been divided, there were mixed signals sent by the then United States of America about its willingness to protect the South from the North, and Truman’s War began.

At the time we had troops in Japan, they were an are Troops of Japanese Occupation, who could be sent directly into the fighting, while the United States geared up to send more from the states.

Since the administration of IKE, and the [SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP] with [1948] Israel, and the activities of [AIPAC/AZC], the United States of America, transformed into the American-Israeli Empire, simply know as the Empire around the Globe. And now that Empire is in decline with most Global Thinkers believing it will end not later than [2020].

This belief is shared by Asian thinkers, and in Japan they want the [48K] Forty-Eight Thousand [FOOTHOLD IN ASIA] troops gone. There are [28K] Twenty-Eight Thousand [Trip Wire] Troops in Korea, in the event of a renewed conflict that amount could be boosted to [76K] Seventy-Six-Thousand, with troops from Japan [FOOT HOLD & TRIP WIRE TROOPS], but by [2020] Japan wants them out so you have [0] zero Foot Hold Troops to rapidly rush into the fight, the North will come at the South with [1M} One Million, backed by [2M] Two-Million, Chi-Com Chinese Communist Route Army Volunteers this time with a nuclear threat not only to Japan but directly to the Empire, South Korea will fall within [72hr] Seventy-Two Hours.

The End of Empire means deals have to be made and one of those is for South Korea to re-unite peacefully under reunification terms in the same manner that Hong Kong did to mainland China, it is surrender under terms which can be worked out or by force with once again family fighting family with massive bloodshed.

Kim Jung Ill, has no incentive with the fall of the Empire within a decade to do anything other wait, he will have done what his father Kim Ill Suk, was unable to do by force of arms, re-unite a country that should never have been divided. Kim Jung Ill will become a historic leader of the Korean People and a statue will be erected in Seoul, the capital of a re-united Korea. Kim Jung Ill will have achieved a major place in that countries history.

You Democratic and Republicans have got to get it thru your heads this is over, the Empire is coming to its End as all Empires do, and there can be serious effects or as with the [USSR] Union of Soviet Socialist Republics they can be worked out peacefully.

The Russian Federation is in the process of preparing for a major war against the Empire, as it is feared the Empire in conjunction with Israel will pre-emotively Nuclear attack both the Shi-ite Persian Republic of Iran and The Russian Federation over the Caspian Sea Basin containing [1/5th] of the worlds energy reserves.

The concept of a [G-2] with the [PRC] Peoples Republic of China is a pipe dream, after the millions of Chinese both the United States of America and the Empire has killed in combat over the decades since [WWII].

The entire Global Community has had it with the Empires Wars of Stimulus Resource and Markets, Blood for Oil Wars.

There are [2] Two choices left for the citizens of Empire to end the present government as the Russians did and end dismantle the [MIC] Military Industrial Complex with as little bloodshed as possible, or after a Thermal Nuclear War try to survive a Nuclear Winter.

There are consequences at the end of Empire that sends ripples around the globe.

HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN
HARD-CORE INDEPENDENT TEA-BAGGER


triathlon
Comment posted November 18, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

THERE ARE [107K] TROOPS AVAILABLE BUT!

There are [107K] One-Seven-Thousand Troops available, and here's the but. Germany has [60K] Six-Thousand, [BUT] the question would be would Germany allow them back into the Fatherland, after years of having them gone? Would they really want American-Israeli Troops of Occupation back in The Fatherland, maybe West Germany but not East Germany.

And, Japan the answer is if they strip Japan of the [ASIAN FOOTHOLD] troops not only would they be putting the [28K] Twenty-Eight-Thousand [TRIP WIRE] troops in Korea at rish, and the very real possibality of North Korea taking the South, there is no way Japan wants them back, they want all [48K/Asian Foothold] American-Israeli Troops of Occupation off Japanese Territory NOW!

The Japanese elected their [PM] Prime Minister with a landslide vote to get the American out.

And, a Draft would be political suicide if not the end of the govenment of the Empire.

HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN


ibnlarry
Comment posted November 18, 2009 @ 10:56 pm

We should also keep in mind that it is unlikely we can withdraw our troops from Iraq as quickly as we would like. We originally wanted a massive decrease immediately after the January elections. But given that the new election law has been delayed 11 times, most recently by a vice presidential veto, it has become increasingly unlikely elections will be held in January.

Unfortunately, the longer the elections are delayed, the more likely violence will resurge, and the longer our troops will have to stay. True, we are still bound by the Status of Forces Agreement that dictates a complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. But it looks like we might have to stay towards the end of that deadline in greater numbers than we had planned.

Just one more wrench to throw into the logistics of an Afghan troop increase.


davidirons
Comment posted November 19, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

I am offended by one remark in this. “All other soldiers and National Guardsmen” implies that National Guardsmen are not real soldiers. Having served in Vietnam with the Army then for over 30 years with the National Guard, I can assure you that National Guardsmen are as good, and sometimes better, than the Regular Army soldiers.


davidirons
Comment posted November 19, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

Because they were trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan in camps in Afghanistan. How much plainer do you need it? Or do you just have selective memory?


Name
Comment posted November 19, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

Agreed. God knows the National Guard did more than its fair share of fighting in Iraq. I can understand why other people might find the wording of “all other soldiers and National Guardsmen” offensive. There does seem to be an implicit charge that they somehow are not real soldiers which is incorrect and fair.

However, it's important to note that because of the Army's new policies the National Guard requires a TWO year dwell time between deployments instead of the standard one for the Army. This makes deploying them harder. And strengthens Spencer's point about how accessible they are to deploy.

Through no fault of their own, but rather understandable Army rules, it's just a reality. You can't deploy National Guard troops as often. They are required to take a longer rest period. This only adds to a potential troop shortage for an immediate surge deployment. That could have been, more, of what Spencer was trying to get at.


scampy1
Comment posted November 19, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

You mean the Taliban has a flying school with big jets and they didn't train in USA?


JC
Comment posted November 20, 2009 @ 7:29 am

because of multi-billion dollar pipelines that would send Caspian natural gas south to the Indian Ocean, bypassing Russia and China… period, end of story.

It's about energy, it's always been about energy. … At least what's left of it.

That's 42 of the top 50 oil producing nations in terminal decline of light crude, at last count. Cheap energy is running out. The kind that sustained the myth of “infinite growth”… for as long as that lasted, anyway. … The game is up, and unfortunately, the era of industrial growth is over. … Accept it.

Bring the troops home. It's called defense, not offense.


santa87
Comment posted November 20, 2009 @ 9:53 am

Maybe they trained in germany and later in US, but the real recruiting bases and basic training were provided by the taliban. Moreover they were protecting Bin laden and Al-Qaeda. Pakistan and Afghanistan are not just countries, but established Islamic polities graduating terrorists in thousands every year through madrassas, feeding them with hatred for west and the rest of the world. Yeah!! Bush is stupid but he is not evil. Any profits made by the country through oil is only a fraction of the amount the country is spending now in the war and the reconstruction. So i don't buy the argument “its all for oil”. Plain enough?

But I agree with you on the point that US and Europe are creating trojan horses through their leniency towards Islamic influx. Most westerners are really ignorant about the evil “Islam” is really capable of – about the hate and orgies spewed all over quaran by Muhammad in the sobriquet of “Allah”. I am definitely going to educate my kids and our local community about the real intentions of Islam. I don't know if its illegal but if it is so, then its high time we start a debate about making it legal. I know this suggestion wont fall in favor amongst many – but you got to do what you got to do, not just for religion's but for the entire mankind's sake.


Arab News Blog » "… deploying practically every available U.S. Army brigade to war…"
Pingback posted November 20, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

[...] Nathan Hodge at DangerRoom, “That’s an understatement. Earlier this week, Spencer Ackerman crunched the numbers on possible Army deployments. “If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to [...]


johncomprone
Comment posted November 23, 2009 @ 12:06 am

The only war worth any salt nowadays is economic, and we are losing the battle back home with 10% unemployment (more like 17% last time I checked). The global war on terror was okay when we felt like we could rule the world militarily, but we live in the twenty-first century now and need to change our views on the Middle East, invest in alternative energies, and regain the economic vigor we had after World War II by investing in the economy. The era of military dominance is over, and there is more money to be made in manufacturing computers than there is in manufacturing drones and weapons of mass destruction. If we don't catch up soon, I am afraid Europe and the U.S. will become relics of the past compared to the Asian economic miracle.


webtasarimi
Comment posted November 23, 2009 @ 4:15 am

Agreed. God knows the National Guard did more than its fair share of fighting in Iraq. I can understand why other people might find the wording of “all other soldiers and National Guardsmen” offensive. There does seem to be an implicit charge that they somehow are not real soldiers which is incorrect and fair.


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