George W. Bush’s decision to unilaterally invade Iraq in March 2003 has placed a severe strain on the US military. The Army currently has almost half of its 32 combat brigades deployed there, with two more assigned to Afghanistan. This means that three-quarters of its forces are either committed to combat zones or recuperating from recent combat.
About 60,000 of the 140,000 troops in Iraq are activated reservists from National Guard or Reserve units. These “weekend warriors” have been involuntarily kept in the war zone an extra three to five months, despite promises that their tours would be limited to one year. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has used “stop loss” orders to keep about 50,000 GIs on active duty past their discharge or separation dates.