NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 13, 2006

The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

In addition, the Army will press hard for "full access" to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists, according to two senior Army officials.

The push for more ground troops comes as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sharply decreased the readiness of Army and Marine Corps units rotating back to the United States, compromising the ability of U.S. ground forces to respond to other potential conflicts around the world, says the Washington Post:

  • The Army, which has 507,000 active-duty soldiers, wants Congress to fund a permanent "end strength," or manpower, of at least 512,000 soldiers, the Army officials said.
  • The Army wants the additional soldiers to be paid for not through wartime supplemental spending bills, but the defense budget now covers only 482,000 soldiers.
  • The Marine Corps, with 180,000 active-duty Marines, seeks to grow by several thousand, including the likely addition of three new infantry battalions.

At least two-thirds of Army units in the United States today are rated as not ready to deploy -- lacking in manpower, training and, most critically, equipment -- according to senior U.S. officials and the Iraq Study Group report. 

The two ground services estimate that they will need $18 billion a year to repair, replace and upgrade destroyed and worn-out equipment.

Source: Ann Scott Tyson, "Army, Marine Corps To Ask for More Troops," Washington Post, December 13, 2006.

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