Monday, February 26, 2007

Comment (Thom Shanker): More Sabers to Rattle, Perhaps Fewer to Thrust

WITH just enough flourish to give North Korea something to think about, a squadron of radar-evading F-22 Raptors landed in Japan a week ago, the first overseas deployment of the United States Air Force’s new ground-attack jet.

In a decision intended to give Iran similar pause, a second aircraft carrier arrived last week in waters within easy sail of the Persian Gulf.

These moves seemed like perfectly logical geopolitical responses to heightened dangers. But they also helped mask another reality. Because the military today does not have enough available ground troops to use for intimidation, the moves were pretty much the only options rather than choices among several.

In the past, certain Army brigades were designated to be on standby, ready to rush to global hot spots in 18 to 72 hours. But the Army and Marines are carrying out the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan with large and sustained deployments, so warplanes and warships are replacing boots on the ground elsewhere.

Read the rest at the NY Times