Something that may be a "third rail" of this war on terror is Military staffing levels.
Paul Krugman: Too few, yet too many (By Paul Krugman The New York Times, TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2005)
It's clear that if more U.S. troops were in Iraq, the Military would have an easier time controlling the situation and suppressing dissent. That is, killing anybody who rises up in opposition to the U.S. presence.
The Krugman article goes into some of the details. The Military, to have a volunteer army, had set things up to allow the troops enough time at home to keep their family lives going fine. e.g. only 1/3rd of the time in war zone, etc. This limits the number of troops on the ground.
But the Bush administration, which was ready neither to look for a way out of Iraq nor to admit that staying there would require a much bigger army, simply threw out the rulebook. Regular soldiers are spending a lot more than a third of their time overseas, and many reservists are finding their civilian lives destroyed by repeated, long-term call-ups.
Two things make the burden of repeated deployments even harder to bear. One is the intensity of the conflict. In the online magazine Slate, Phillip Carter and Owen West, who adjusted casualty figures to take account of force size and improvements in battlefield medicine (which allow more of the severely wounded to survive), concluded that "infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966."
The other is the way in which the administration cuts corners when it comes to supporting the troops. From their foot-dragging on armoring Humvees to their apparent policy of denying long-term disability payments to as many of the wounded as possible, officials seem almost pathologically determined to nickel-and-dime those who put their lives on the line for their country.
Now, predictably, the supply of volunteers is drying up.
Which leads me to wonder ... how long before The Draft is instituted?
And.... what will be the response of the apathetic Youth to The Draft?