When asked what units will fill the void in the coming spring if any need to be replaced, officials give a grim shake of the head, shrug of the shoulders or a palms-up, empty-handed gesture.

“The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply,” the Army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, said last week. “Right now we have in place deployment and mobilization policies that allow us to meet the current demands. If the demands don’t go down over time, it will become increasingly difficult for us to provide the trained and ready forces” for other missions.

How long before Army recruitment offices start sending out postcards to America’s poorer citizens, offering them a free, all-expenses paid trip because – hey, lucky people! – their number’s come up?

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