February 1, 2006  

To the U.S. Army

For not being “an institution at war.” Our reporting here is anecdotal, to be sure, but the pile of war stories is immense from soldiers and commanders deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan that the institutional Army continues to operate with a peacetime mentality and rules. Staff jobs in Afghanistan, for example, are not “coded” as joint-duty assignments, so talented senior officers are often kept behind desks rather than sent to the front.

Indeed, the problem probably extends beyond the Army. Many parts of the Defense Department seem not to be “at war” or to have a proper sense of urgency about winning the actual fights we’re in; certainly the secretary of defense’s unwillingness to increase the number of active-duty ground forces suggests as much. But given that the burdens of Iraq and Afghanistan fall disproportionately on the Army, Big Green’s internal problems are inexcusable.