Date: March 13, 2005
Sent to but not published in the New York Times
Unfair ComparisonsIn comparing American combat readiness with that of the Europeans, Thomas Friedman (Week in Review, March 6th., 2005) engages in a columnist's subtle sleight of hand. He says, "only about 5% of the European troops have the training, weaponry, logistical and intelligence support and airlift capability to fight a modern, hot war outside of Europe. (In the US it is 70% in crucial units).
He is comparing apples and oranges – the whole of Europe's armies with "crucial" US army units. This is the same army with over 2 million persons (I hesitate to say "under arms") which cannot sustain a force of 150,000 in Iraq without imposing stop loss orders on those who have completed their commitments.
It sounds to me as if the US is approaching the European state of unpreparedness.