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The United States faces very difficult trade-offs in responding to the demanding calls now being made on Army forces for overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This report describes the effects of large-scale deployments on the Army’s ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies, to ensure that its soldiers are trained for warfighting and stability operations, and to preserve the quality of life for its soldiers and families. The authors found the Army’s plans for transforming its active and reserve brigades and employing its reserves at reasonable rates help ameliorate the stresses but still leave shortfalls. Steps available to improve the situation all involve significant risks or costs. Unless these overseas requirements recede considerably, the nation is faced with an Army stretched thin, with no quick fix or straightforward solution.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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