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Well technically you can only count the Marines and Army, since the AF and Navy aren't really doing squat on the ground. So that's a pool of about 525,000 Army and 175,000 Marines, say 600,000, and of that, 135,000 are in Iraq. About 200,000 are probably in training, peacekeeping missions (Bosnia), homeland defense missions or in administrative positions, and about 200,000 others are probably refitting/relaxing from their deployment last year. So yeah, we could probably throw a few more brigades in there, except that would imperil our ability to work another contingency. Like Iran or something... kidding. But going from 700,000 Army guys in the 1990s to 525,000 really put a crimp in our capabilities.


You know, I always end up focusing on the active service members and forget about the Reserves and Guard. From that point, yeah, where are all the people? Right now about half the population in Iraq is NG/Reserve, although it is said that this strategy is going away and there will be far fewer NG/Reservists in theater. So from that standpoint, the burden is still on the active force.


And, as we know, the Guard and Reserves work for short wars (the 1991 Gulf War) and very small long-term commitments (the Balkans peacekeeping operation). A big, long-term deployment? Not so good.

You have a good post today on what our enemies might conclude about our ability to fight more than one war. I'd like to think that the weirdly optimistic talk from the White House about Iraq war is intended to keep the Iranians and North Koreans guessing about our real capabilities. Unfortunately, (1) I don't think they're too puzzled by our current force projection limits, and (2) the Administration's comments seem directed at the US public, not a foreign audience.

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