WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Nearly a million U.S. troops have been deployed for war in Iraq or Afghanistan since those conflicts began, according to Pentagon data.
The data also show that one out of every three of those service members has gone more than once.
The Pentagon confirmed to United Press International Wednesday that a cumulative total of 955,000 troops from all military services had been deployed for Operation Iraqi or Enduring Freedom by the end of September. More than 300,000 of those troops have been deployed more than once, the Pentagon said.
One government source said the total number of troops deployed has likely hit 1 million since then.
The Pentagon data shows that 708,000 of the troops who have served in war come from the active duty force. That means that roughly half of the United States' 1.4 million active duty troops have gone to war. Slightly more than 245,000 troops from reserve and National Guard units have also been deployed.
Military experts said the new data show the American military is being stretched to its limits -- or beyond. "It shows that we are short of troops. I don't think there is any question about that," retired Marine Corps three-star general Bernard E. Trainor told UPI. "Nobody, or almost nobody, anticipated specifically how this thing was going to turn out."
Trainor said he believed the military has not struggled with these kinds of numbers since Vietnam. "The military is stretched entirely too thin," Trainor said.
The war in Iraq is less than two years old. There are 140,000 troops in Iraq now and 16,000 in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
Speaking to troops in Kuwait this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got an earful of complaints about aging equipment, a lack of armored vehicles and soldiers who say they are being kept on active duty beyond what they were told.
Trainor told UPI that when soldiers take the unusual step of bucking their leadership in public it is a sign of trouble. "It is a danger signal that there is eroding support in the ranks for the civilian leadership," Trainor said.
One soldier in Kuwait asked Rumsfeld if the stress on the armed forces might weaken the country's ability to fight back against another terror attack. Rumsfeld responded that the country has "well over 2.5 million people we can call on at any given time. So you can be sure that we have the capability we need."
"There are elements of the force, however, that have been stressed and we read a lot about that and we hear a lot about that on television and it is a fact," Rumsfeld said. But he added that is "not because we have too few total forces, it's because we have not had the right balance between the active and reserve."
A Pentagon spokesman could not provide a breakdown of where the 955,000 troops have been deployed.
The data details the number of active duty and guard and reserve troops from the different services who have been deployed:
- Active duty Army: 280,000
- Army National Guard: 90,000
- Army reserve: 65,000
- Coast Guard: 1,500
- Coast Guard reserve: 200
- Air National Guard: 41,000
- Air Force 151,000
- Air reserve: 23,000
- Active duty Marines: 99,000
- Marine reserve 15,000
- Active duty Navy: 177,000
- Navy reserve: 11,000.