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US army troops not prepared to 'fight tonight': Pentagon internal survey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US army soldiers arrive at Morocco's Agadir military airport on June 9, 2021 to take part in the "African Lion" military exercise. (Photo via AFP)

A new survey shows only one in seven army troops are ready to "fight tonight" if a war breaks out with US adversaries despite the Pentagon claims that its forces are prepared for an immediate conflict anywhere in the world.

More than 5,400 soldiers and civilians of different ranks were asked by an internal survey if they would be ready to deploy, fight, and win anywhere in the world immediately. 

The results showed a startling lack of combat readiness among the army troops.

Only 14% of respondents said their unit would be ready “immediately,” according to the figures obtained by US magazine, Foreign Policy.

Some 13% of those surveyed said they would need more time, while 3% said they would be ready to go in a week, and 4% in a month.

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said the question didn’t apply to them, likely owing to the fact that the majority of respondents were civilians.

About 40 percent of generals were confident that they could immediately deploy and win.

“If war was to come today I think the Army would be in a difficult position,” said Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant general.

“Some of the brigade combat teams are well trained, but there’s a fair number that are not,” he added.

The army, however, downplayed the figures, saying in a statement that Army senior leaders remain confident that the service is “ready to fight and win, both today and last summer.”

Army spokesman Terence Kelley argued that the survey was taken in mid-2020, during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the army has resumed normal training and provided vaccines to more than 93 percent of active-duty service members and the service’s combat training centers are at full capacity, now.

An annual assessment of US military power, however, showed last week that only 58 percent of brigade combat teams were at the highest levels of tactical readiness, 8 percentage points below the service’s goal and a drop of 16 percentage points from last year.

Experts blame the administration of President Joe Biden for the problem, as it was seeking to flatten the Pentagon’s budget and invest in controversial modern weapons systems.

“Readiness for the Army has crested and started to come down, and if the budget is approved the way they submitted it, it will go down even further, I think,” said the retired army general, Spoehr.

Readiness figures are crucial for the Pentagon as well as for US adversaries, which are looking for clues about how prepared the American troops would be to take them on during a possible future war.


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