Today at the Pentagon, President Bush spoke of the need to modernize our military but failed to mention it is his misplaced priorities and failed policies in Iraq have led to a military readiness crisis that the United States has not experienced since the end of the Vietnam War more than thirty years ago.
Since the beginning of the Iraq war, the readiness of our forces - active duty and reserve - has plummeted.
- When President Bush was inaugurated, in January 2001, all active duty Army divisions were rated at the highest readiness levels.
- Today, not a single active duty or reserve brigade in the U.S. is considered 'fully combat ready.' Our strategic reserve of forces has eroded to dangerous levels.
- All of the Army's available active duty combat brigades have served at least one 12-month tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Not since the end of the Vietnam War has our Army ground forces readiness been at these crisis levels.
- The majority of our active duty Army units at home are critically short of equipment and personnel.
- In order to prepare units for an Iraq deployment, equipment and personnel are cobbled together - called 'cross-leveling' - from other units across the country, further degrading our military readiness.
- Ultimately, under-manned, under-equipped, or under-trained units are more likely to experience higher casualty and accident rates in war.
Democrats have led the fight to ensure our military is properly trained, adequately equipped and given time at home equal to their time in war.
- The House and Senate recently passed, and the President signed into law, a $459 billion Defense Appropriations Bill that fully funds home-station training, equipment maintenance, and other key military readiness programs.
- In the May 2007 War Funding Supplemental, Democrats added $2 billion, not requested by the President's request, to improve the readiness of units here at home and rebuild our strategic readiness reserve, including the National Guard.
- Sixteen months ago, Chairmen David Obey and John Murtha wrote a letter to the President asking him to submit an emergency supplemental request to address the military's readiness crisis. At their behest, Congress added $20 billion to the 2007 bridge fund.
In November, House Democrats again fought for a New Direction in Iraq by passing a funding bill that provides our troops with $50 billion and a strategy that brings them home - because that is the best way to improve military readiness.