Multiple wars, tours strain military readiness

The strain of fighting wars on multiple fronts is hurting America’s military readiness, a report on the state of our armed forces shows.

With our soldiers serving multiple tours on an ever-increasing number of conflicts, the risk level remains at "significant" for the third straight year.

And the problem shows no signs of easing as President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Iraq will take longer than originally hoped and an additional 17,000 troops are headed for the war in Afghanistan.

Reports Lolita Baldor of The Associated Press:

Strained by repeated war tours, persistent terrorist threats and instability around the globe, there is a significant risk the U.S. military may not be able to respond quickly and fully to new crises, a classified Pentagon assessment has concluded.

This is the third year that the risk level has been set at "significant" – despite improved security conditions in Iraq and plans to cut U.S. troop levels there. Senior military officials spoke about the report on condition of anonymity because it is a classified document.

The risk assessment, drawn up by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paints a broad picture of the security threats and hot spots around the world and the U.S. military’s ability to deal with them. Mullen has delivered it to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The assessment is prepared every year and routinely delivered to Congress with the budget,

Because the threat is rated as significant, Gates will send an accompanying report to Congress outlining what the military is doing to address the risks. That report has not yet been finished.