For the British military, it's a long-established rule: serving officers don't criticize their political masters—at least in public. But circumstances test the oldest conventions. With soldiers heavily committed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, commanders fear the armed forces are dangerously close to the breaking point, and these days they're starting to speak out. Last week the chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, told journalists in London: "We are simply not geared up for two operations on this scale." According to the country's senior officer, the military was "stretched beyond the capabilities we have."