The Hobbled Hegemon

The Hobbled Hegemon - Page 1 2 of 3 DOCUMENTS The Economist...

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2 of 3 DOCUMENTS The Economist June 30, 2007 U.S. Edition The hobbled hegemon - American power; American power SECTION: LENGTH: 3820 words DATELINE: camp lejeune and fort bragg HIGHLIGHT: An assessment of American power Its troubles in Iraq have much weakened it; but America is likely to remain the dominant superpower THE men and women of America's 82nd Airborne Division, whose battle honours include the D-Day landings of the second world war, like to call themselves the nation's "911" emergency service--ready to parachute in, at a moment's notice, to any troublespot in the world. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the 82nd Airborne was the first to deploy in Saudi Arabia to hold the line. And when George Bush announced his surge of forces into Baghdad last January, the "All-Americans" were the first reinforcements. These days, though, the 82nd Airborne is no longer America's quick-response service. Its sprawling base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina has emptied out, with all four of its brigades now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the rest of the year at least, the high-readiness brigade is provided by the 101st Airborne Division. Still, the All-Americans insist they can be counted on to "fight and win" in other places if needed. One divisional command sergeant-major says the paratroopers can deploy from anywhere to anywhere and always take their parachutes, just in case. A two-hour drive from Fort Bragg, at Camp Lejeune, home of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, officers say they too are operating "with engines at full throttle". They no longer have time to rehearse major assault operations, and their training for counter-insurgency is hampered by equipment shortages. Indeed, about half the marines' pre-positioned kit, stored on ships around the world and in vast Norwegian caves, has been drawn down to give front-line fighters what they need. Such signs of strain on America's military forces are like dead "canaries in the mineshaft" that warn of impending disaster, says Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defence think-tank. In the sixth year of the "war on terror" deployments in war zones are ever longer, while "dwell time" at home to recover is shorter. The army and marines say morale remains strong but, equally, they say the current tempo cannot go on indefinitely. At some point either the resources must increase, or demands on the forces must be reduced. Even before the surge was announced, Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and an ex-chairman of the joint Page 1
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chiefs of staff, said that the active army was "about broken". The outgoing military chief, General Peter Pace, warned Congress earlier this year that America's ability to deal with another crisis in the world was being eroded. In a classified report, he said there was a "significant" risk that America would not be ready to respond properly to a series of possible military conflicts--from Korea to Taiwan, Cuba or Iran. America could still beat any likely enemy, said the general, but
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2008 for the course INR 2002 taught by Professor Dalesmith during the Fall '07 term at FSU.

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The Hobbled Hegemon - Page 1 2 of 3 DOCUMENTS The Economist...

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