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Overextended

06/18/03 12:00AM By Bill Seamans
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(Host) Commentator Bill Seamans reflects on the potential for problems if the U.S. military presence around the world keeps spreading.


(Seamans) The question emerging from the fog of peace is one the Pentagon prefers not to talk about: whether our armed forces are being overextended overseas to a degree that is causing concern for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and our top military brass.

The Iraqi guerilla ambush campaign launched against our troops is stretching out the need for our forces there. For example, elements of the Third Infantry Division which fought the brunt of the war all the way to Baghdad were scheduled to come home. Instead, they were dispatched to Falluja, the center of guerilla resistance because they were the most experienced troops available.

While the White House puts a positive spin on postwar Iraq, the guerilla miniwar continues. The Army spokesman in Baghdad told the New York Times, "We are not going to allow it---we are going to decisively engage." Last week, our forces decisively wiped out a major guerilla training camp and are showing little mercy as they track down militants who are trying to upset American plans for establishing a new government.

This kind of highly motivated ambush warfare is extremely nerve-wracking and dangerous for our young troops wearing those "boots on the ground." The guerillas strength is invisibility. He hides in the open among the people and he encourages a civilian casualty toll to make our troops look like oppressors rather than liberators.

Meanwhile, the assault ship U.S.S. Kearsage which was bringing 18-hundred Marines home from the Iraq war has been diverted to Liberia. Our Marines were sent to protect the evacuation of Americans stranded in the capital city, Monrovia, by the civil war there. For combat-weary troops heading home there is nothing more demoralizing than to be diverted, instead, to another tough mission.

We also have troops chasing terrorists in the Philippines. Thousands more in South Korea. Tens of thousands more spread out manning the world-wide supply lines that support our forces overseas. Some tours of duty have been extended and there is talk about the need for calling up more National Guard and reserve personnel.

The highly regarded "Washington Monthly" commentary magazine said, "We may have had enough troops to win the war, but not nearly enough to win the peace."

And that's not all, Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said American forces might also be needed to root out Hamas terrorists in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The question obscured by the fog of peace is where the supply of fresh troops to relieve our overextended forces overseas is coming from? Will there be enough volunteers to fill the ranks?

This is Bill Seamans
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