Is the U.S. military stretched too thin?

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With deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe and elsewhere around the globe, some worry that another conflict — for example, in the Korean peninsula — could strain the American military too far beyond its capabilities. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says American forces are adequate to handle any task that comes their way. What do you think? Is the U.S. military ready for another conflict, or is it deployed in too many global hotspots? And if it is overstretched, how can the problem be solved?

Please limit your responses to 80 words or less. The best entries reflecting the balance of opinions expressed will be published on throughout the week.

Some of your responses:

Make no mistake about this issue. To win the war against terrorism, what the U.S. needs urgently is not to enlist more soldiers but a lot more friends. Friends are something quite different from occasional allies. The Soviet Union was a U.S. ally during WWII, but nobody would call the Soviets America's friends. What is really stretched too thin is the amount of sympathy that the current administration is enjoying worldwide. It's amazing to realize how the Bush team dissipated the fantastic support and sympathy that American people received immediately after 9/11. It's time to think about this.
David Martelo
Oporto, Portugal

Well, if the U.S. is really aiming at making the threat of military action a cornerstone of a foreign policy that allows for preemptive action, as is the case currently, the country will eventually have to commit a lot more than 3% of GDP to defense spending. However, rather than rushing into raising the deficit, raising taxes, or cutting other spending programs, probably one should start by asking if that is the right foreign policy after all.
Armando Santiago
Mexico City

Of course it is. The administration won't admit that because there is more concern with winning next year's election, and a massive troop buildup in Iraq won't do. I wonder too about the mental health of the young men who do make it back. Is this Vietnam all over again?
James Buonocore
Largo, Fla.

The commanders on scene are the only ones qualified to determine if their forces are stretched too thin. The media and politicians sitting in their plush surroundings have done nothing but report the negative aspects of the situation in order to influence the general public.
Wes Rowley
Bonita Springs, Fla.

I am retired from the Air Force and never have I seen so much asked from so few. Our Defense Secretary wants to run the military like a civilian company. The thing that is wrong with that is in the military people are subject to getting killed. Who is left to replace that person? A civilian cannot be expected to guard a prisoner or stand guard duty at an installation. We need troops. We need to rid ourselves of an administration who will run this country into the ground and kill our young people because no one had an idea of how to provide personnel for the military.
Bob Holder
South Carolina

President Bill Clinton's reduction of military forces is well known. Are the numbers quoted by Buzz Patterson in his book Dereliction of Duty correct? If so then wouldn't it be reasonable to assume President Clinton is responsible for our weakened state?
Guy Tansley
Lowell, Ore.

Perhaps [the military is overstretched], but this is the price that the American people must pay to secure freedom here and abroad.
New York

Yes! And the answer is that every young American citizen should serve their country for at least a two-year period between the ages of 18 and 25. You get a tremendous amount of benefit being an American citizen and it is not free. Many pay for everyone elses freedoms and rights while the vast majority sit back, enjoy the benefit of others' sacrifice and complain when things don't go as they would like. No college deferments or the like, go to school before or after you do your share!
Carl Bogdon
New Jersey

Of course they are. One only needs to read Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" written over 2,000 years ago. It constantly counsels against fighting protracted wars, which is what Iraq has become, and the U.S. troops can't and shouldn't be expected to sustain it.
Steve Turbit
Sydney, Australia

I believe we have sufficient military, however they need better ways to analyze the information as it is gathered. We need to support our troops and government more and criticize less.
Bobby Lott
Brandon, Miss.

As an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division, which has been in Iraq since the onset of the war — which by the way is still a war — the Army is indeed being stretched too thin. There are no replacements in sight for our unit, which we're told will be here for over a year. Retention — and most of all the health and welfare of soldiers and their families — are in dire straits. The current admistration, in particular Secretary Rumsfeld, seems to be oblivious to the needs of the Army and the soldiers who dedicate their lives to it. I only hope someone listens to us.
Specialist Robert Timmins
Qayyarah, Northern Iraq

Much like Rome before her empire crumpled, the U.S. is spread everywhere around the known world. This is extremely dangerous at a time when anti-American sentiment is rampant around the globe.
James Gunnar
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

It is interesting that Bush said we were [overstretched] during the [2000 election] campaign and now we have many more troops abroad than before. Of course, he was against "nation building" back then too. I think that we will need even more troops abroad if we keep insulting the U.N. and NATO nations. Being unilateralist is bad for foreign policy and for our economy. Maybe the American people should consider the intelligence of the candidate they vote for next time. Voting for president is not like selecting a prom king.
Tamara Johnson
Wales, Wisc.

We are overextended. Our attempts at nation building place our young men and women in harm's way, spend our national treasure, and squander what goodwill there was after 9/11. Our administration was great at war preparation, but has no patience with peace. We are in for sore times.
Michael Lord

This question is best left up to the experts rather than media pundits, politicians, and wannabe analysts. Those closest to where the action is say they have sufficient forces to do the job and I support that.
Manny Hernandez
San Diego, Calif.

Without a doubt! My daughter turns 10 this fall, I've been home for 4 birthdays; I've been married 15 years this winter, I've missed 8; service members can go on and on with examples like this. I love this country and that's why I continue to serve. So does my family and that's why they understand what I do, but our services have been asked to do too much with smaller and smaller numbers and we need more soldiers.
Major A.
U.S. Army
South Korea

The news media always looks for the negative. Our military is very capable of handling anything that comes their way. The fact that a very small percentage have started to whine about their predicament should not be held against the 97% who do their job well and deserve our utmost respect and support. I support a huge pay increase for those G.I.s that find themselves posted in Afghanistan and Iraq, and anywhere else on the globe where they find themselves actually under fire.
James P. Barker
Bel Air, Md.

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