The U.S. Military: Under Strain and at Risk
Report, National Security Advisory Group
January 25, 2006
Authors: Dr. William J. Perry, Former Co-Director, Preventive Defense Project, Ashton B. Carter, Former Co-Director, Preventive Defense Project, Harvard & Stanford Universities, Secretary Madeleine K. Albright, Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School, Samuel R. Berger, General Wesley K. Clark, Former Senior Advisor, 2001-2009, Preventive Defense Project, Thomas E. Donilon, John D. Podesta, Susan E. Rice, General (ret.) John M. Shalikashvili, Former Founding Senior Advisor, Preventive Defense Project, Amb. Wendy R. Sherman, Dr. Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall, Former Founding Senior Advisor, Preventive Defense Project, Dr. James B. Steinberg
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
Authors: Carter, Ashton B., William J. Perry, Madeleine K. Albright, Graham T. Allison, Samuel R. Berger, Wesley K. Clark, Thomas E. Donilon, Michele A. Flournoy, John D. Podesta, Susan E. Rice, John M. Shalikashvili, Wendy R. Sherman, Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall and James B. Steinberg.
In the current debate over Iraq, there is an elephant in the room that few are willing to acknowledge. While the U.S. military has performed superbly in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, our ground forces are under enormous strain. This strain, if not soon relieved, will have highly corrosive and potentially long-term effects on the force.
We believe that the Bush administration has broken faith with the American soldier and Marine:
- by failing to plan adequately for post-conflict operations in Iraq;
- by failing to send enough forces to accomplish that mission at an acceptable level of risk; and
- by failing to adequately equip and protect the young Americans they sent into harm’s way.
These failures have created a real risk of "breaking the force" -- a force that is critical to protecting and advancing our national interests, now and in the future. The American military deserves better. The American people deserve better. This paper is intended to sound a warning – to raise awareness about the state of our ground forces today and the very real risk that poses to our future security. This paper also proposes an action plan for restoring the health and vitality of the U.S. military. The administration has under discussion some of what is recommended here, but the actions actually being taken fall far short of what is required.
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Document Length: 22 pp.