Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker:Escalation is "Tip of the Iceberg"

February 16, 2007

On Wednesday, amidst reports that thousands of Army humvees to be used in the escalation lack vital armor upgrades, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to President Bush urging him to take the necessary steps to ensure that the tens of thousands of soldiers being sent to escalate the war in Iraq have the armor and equipment needed to perform their mission and protect their lives. Today the news only gets more worrisome as far as the safety of our troops is concerned:


Iraq Troop Boost Erodes Readiness, General Says

Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson - February 16, 2007


Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said yesterday that the increase of 17,500 Army combat troops in Iraq represents only the "tip of the iceberg" and will potentially require thousands of additional support troops and trainers, as well as equipment -- further eroding the Army's readiness to respond to other world contingencies.


Although final decisions on deployments have not been made, Schoomaker said, U.S. commanders in Iraq have requested an additional 2,500 soldiers to serve as embedded trainers for Iraqi forces, and 5,000 to 6,000 additional soldiers could be needed to provide logistical and other support to the five Army combat brigades flowing into Baghdad.

"We are having to go to some extraordinary measures to ensure we can respond," he said, but he added that even then he could not guarantee the combat units would receive all the translators, civil affairs soldiers and other support troops they request. "We are continuing today to get requests for forces that continue to stress us."


The article continues, discussing apparent concerns expressed to the White House by Schoomaker and other military leaders:


Schoomaker, in one of his last congressional testimonies as Army chief, also made it clear that he had raised concerns in advance about President Bush's plan to increase troops in Iraq because it would further deplete Army units at home.


"We laid out . . . exactly what the risks are in terms of other contingencies . . . to include my concerns about the lack of adequate dwell time," he said, referring to the fact that active-duty soldiers now spend only about a year at home between 12-month war zone rotations.