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Stretched Thin: Army Forces for Sustained Operations

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Recent events have seen a growing demand for use of the nations military forces, both for overseas operations and for homeland security. The increased operational tempo, particularly driven by the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, has led to more frequent and lengthy deployments of units and soldiers across the entire U.S. Army. These in turn have placed increasing stress on the Army as it seeks to preserve its institutional commitments to training its soldiers and units and to maintaining a pool of ready units that can respond rapidly to new contingencies. This situation confronts the nation with several key questions Are the Armys active and reserve forces the right size to meet these demands Does the Army have the right number and types of combat units to sustain high levels of overseas deployments while maintaining ready units for other possible contingencies And how much does the rapid rotation of deployments stretch the Armys units and soldiers The current report endeavors to address these questions and to examine alternative ways in which the Army might respond to current and future demands on its forces. Chapter Two describes how the Army could support various operational requirements for deployments if it used only the AC. Chapter Three describes the situation when RC forces are employed along with the AC. It will show how much the RC can contribute and will analyze how various changes in employment policy could ameliorate the situation. It concludes with a brief analysis of the effects of sustained overseas rotations on individual soldiers and the amount of time they spend away from home during their career. Chapter Four describes different approaches to planning for a future that involves high levels of Army overseas rotations. It defines seven options to assess trade-offs involving the number of AC units and the degree of dependence on the National Guard. Chapter Five presents the conclusions.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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