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PENTAGON SAYS MILITARY HINDERED BY TWO WARS

A classified Pentagon assessment concludes that long battlefield tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with persistent terrorist activity and other threats, have prevented the U.S. military from improving its ability to respond to any new crisis.

Despite security gains in Iraq, there is still a "significant" risk that the strained U.S. military cannot quickly and fully respond to another outbreak elsewhere in the world, according to the report.

Last year the Pentagon raised that threat risk from "moderate" to "significant." This year, the report will maintain that "significant" risk level - pointing to the U.S. military's ongoing struggle against a stubborn insurgency in Iraq and its lead role in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon, however, will say that efforts to increase the size of the military, replace equipment and bolster partnerships overseas will help lower the risk over time, defense officials said Friday.

"The risk has basically stayed consistent, stayed steady," Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman, told the House Armed Services Committee this week.

The annual review grades the military's ability to meet the demands of the nation's military strategy.

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