Gen Sir Michael Walker told the Commons defence committee that the Army in particular would not be able to recover from operations in Iraq until 2008 or 2009.
“I think we have already accepted that we cannot do another large-scale operation now,” he said. “We are unlikely to be able to get to large-scale much before the end of the decade, somewhere around 08 or 09.”
….The problems have already affected the deployment of extra troops to Afghanistan to back up the American-led hunt for Osama bin Laden. Defence chiefs have been considering sending 1,400 commandos and paratroopers to support the SAS and US special forces’ operation in Afghanistan.
Phil thinks this testimony is credible and then asks the obvious question:
We know what the British are saying about their future capacity to conduct major combat operations — what are the American projections on this issue? Assuming we can eventually leave Iraq, how much time will the U.S. military need to consolidate, reorganize and reconstitute before it’s ready to fight again? My hunch is that it will take less time, because of the rotational readiness systems being adopted in the Army and the pressure to get redeployed units ready for the next OEF/OIF rotation. But the question remains — what will the long-term readiness cost be of Operation Iraqi Freedom?
Good question. If it becomes common knowledge that Britain, and to some extent the United States as well, can’t fight another major war in the near term, doesn’t that take an awful lot of pressure off of states like Iran, Syria, and North Korea?