Friday, December 15, 2006

Increasing the Size of the Military

Can anyone remember Saint Bill's "reduction of the government?" Remember how he ripped out that big section of the military as part of the new peace dividend from the end of the Cold War? No? I'm not surprised, though those actions are bearing more bitter fruit now.
The review of Iraq policy by senior commanders appears to be headed toward a recommendation to increase the size of the American military, both to sustain a long-term commitment in Iraq and to leave the United States better positioned to deal with potential adversaries, in particular Iran and North Korea, Pentagon and military officials said Thursday.

Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, is proposing an increase in active-duty troops.

The latest indication came when the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, called for expanding the force by adding more active-duty troops and by making more use of the National Guard and Reserve.

His statement, on Thursday, came a day after President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon’s secure conference room to discuss reshaping strategy in Iraq. That session, officials said, included a detailed discussion of whether the armed services are large enough to sustain the mission in Iraq and meet other global security threats.
And what a surprise, the writer focuses the blame on guess who.
That conclusion is being punctuated by the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who officially leaves his post on Friday and who was long the champion of the idea that high technology and better intelligence could substitute for a bigger military.
This fascinating bit of sophistry is pathetic. Rumsfeld in fact moved to restructure the military to move away from the Cold War massive armies that were intended to fight gigantic wars. The positioning of such an argument denies what Rumsfeld did do, which was refocus the military to be capable of handling more than just huge army movements in Europe. Rumsfeld worked to make the military effective in the world environment that exists now. He's forced the military to move into the modern world, though you'd never get that from this article.
A new study by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington, that was released on Thursday also called for a surge of forces to Baghdad over the near term on the grounds that the nascent Iraqi security force is not up to the task.

The report was written by the military historian Frederick W. Kagan and by Jack Keane, the retired general who served as vice chief of staff of the Army. It calls for adding four to five additional combat brigades to Baghdad and deploying them in neighborhoods that have mixed Sunni and Shiite populations and have been the scene of sectarian violence.

The report argues that this can be done without stretching the Army and Marines to the breaking point, but it also advocates increasing both forces by a total of at least 30,000 per year for the next two years.

I haven't read the report yet, though you can read it from the link found here. Note that they are quoted as stating that the military can be more heavily deployed in Iraq without brining it to the breaking point. Something that most talking heads of the MSM seem to continually argue will happen. I'd say there are further steps that can make the military more agile and capable as they stand, and the means are primarily to reduce the overhead for the military. The support structure for some of the services is huge. I believe I've read the Marines have 12 support Marines for every combat Marine. Every Army soldier that fights has 15 support troops. That's quite ineffective. And that doesn't even mention the antiquated military bases throughout Europe that serve no purpose in the military needs of the US today.

Further discussion on the military's needs:
The nation faces three choices or “we will break the active component,” General Schoomaker said in an appearance before the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. He said the choices included reducing demand on the military, which seems unlikely; gaining the guaranteed ability to mobilize the National Guard and Reserve; and increasing the size of the active forces.

On the last point, said that “current demand on the force makes this a wise and prudent action.” He gave no figure on his goal for the Army, but noted that even in an optimistic best case, the Army probably could grow by only 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers per year.

Congress authorized a 30,000-soldier increase in the active-duty Army after the Sept. 11 attacks in what was described as a temporary measure. Army officials say they hope to reach that authorized total troop strength of 512,000 by next year.

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, the former Army chief of staff who now heads the Association of the U.S. Army, a private support group, said in an interview that senior Army officers have told him in recent months that the service needs an active duty strength of some 535,000 to 540,000. General Sullivan said that figure assumed assured access to mobilize the National Guard and Reserves.

Well, at least I didn't see the word Draft thrown about. And with the recruitment goals being met and exceeded, it may not be impossible to reach those goals. Though you can be certain that the yelps for a draft to relieve the disproportionate numbers of minorities in the military will come up again. You'll love that AP article I linked. They spend more than half the article describing how public opinion is so bad with regards to Iraq, and then they sneak in at the end that all services have met their goals for recruitment. The only failures have been seen in the reserves and National Guard, which is no real surprise, since those groups have higher levels of people who want the cash but not the fight.

Now it's a question of whether the military and the Administration can move to clean up some of the more wasteful military spending supporting Europe for a threat that doesn't exist. I'm thinking the occupation of Germany, at a minimum should come to an end. I just won't hold my breath.

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