More Troops

MORE TROOPS….The New Republic reports on the state of our military today:

After failing to meet its recruitment target for 2005, the Army raised the maximum age for enlistment from 35 to 40 in January ? only to find it necessary to raise it to 42 in June. Basic training, which has, for decades, been an important tool for testing the mettle of recruits, has increasingly become a rubber-stamping ritual. Through the first six months of 2006, only 7.6 percent of new recruits failed basic training, down from 18.1 percent in May 2005.

Alarmingly, this drop in boot camp attrition coincides with a lowering of recruitment standards. The number of Army recruits who scored below average on its aptitude test doubled in 2005, and the Army has doubled the number of non-high school graduates it can enlist this year.

There’s nothing all that new in this article, but it’s worth reading it to get the big picture. Two-thirds of active Army units are unready for combat and the situation is even worse in the National Guard. The number and quality of recruits is down. Equipment is wearing out and not getting replaced. As the authors say, we simply don’t have any more combat-ready troops than the ones that are already in the field.

This is why it’s not merely rhetorical to ask guys like Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol to tell us where they’re going to get the extra soldiers they keep telling us we need in Iraq. They’ve already tacitly admitted that we can’t win the war without more troops, but they’re too timid ? or mendacious? ? to ask the obvious next question: If we need more troops to win, but there aren’t any more troops to be had, then what?