U.S. reconsiders its '2-war' readiness strategy





The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the administration of President Barack Obama to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

For more than six years now, the United States has in fact been fighting two wars, with more than 170,000 troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The military has openly acknowledged that the wars have left troops and equipment severely strained and has said that it would be difficult to carry out any kind of significant operation elsewhere.

To some extent, fears have faded that the United States may actually have to fight, say, Russia and North Korea, or China and Iran, at the same time. But if Iraq and Afghanistan were never formidable foes in conventional terms, they have already tied up the American military for a period longer than World War II.

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said that the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Gulf War in 1991, or the invasions of Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989.



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