Not exactly your nervous Nellie type, the former head of U.S. Southern Command, McCaffrey says, given the current course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the army can't be sustained more than 24 months. Citing growing tensions in Korea, or a possible conflict between China and Taiwan, he warns, should "the other shoe drop" the military will be unable to react.
Speaking to the Rocky Mountain News before addressing a Homeland Defense Symposium, McCaffrey said the country's 'War on Terror' has put the nation's military on a "WWII footing" since the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, five years ago this week.
"I think it's irresponsible. I think we put the nation in the position of strategic peril."
McCaffrey says budget shortfalls mean a lack of equipment and mission capablity, while dwindling recruitment numbers has forced diminished enlistment standards and a broadening of the acceptable recruitment age range. The army will now consider applicants up to 42 years of age, and those with criminal and psychiatric records. McCaffrey also says the army now can't afford to turn away less stellar applicants, increasingly accepting those among the lowest scoring on aptitude and intelligence tests.
With the Bush administration rattling sabres against Iran, North Korea, and anyone else daring the Emperor's ire, they are painting themselves, and the world, into a tight corner. Should Bush feel America must fight another war, its only choice may be its nuclear arsenal.
Meanwhile, as Iraq and Afghanistan spiral out of control, Iran, North Korea, and closer to home Venezuela feel they can afford yet to tweek the nose of the hegemon knowing there's little America can do militarily. And, General McCaffrey would seem to agree.
For its part, the Pentagon dismissed McCaffrey's statements as the "opinions of a retired general officer," not those of the army.