Murphy's Law: November 23, 2002


Despite the war on terror, the U.S. military is still at an all time post World War II low in terms of personnel strength. In 1950, just before the Cold War and Korean War manpower increases, the army had 593,167 troops, in 2000 (before s slight increase for the war on terror) there were 482,170. For the navy, 1950 strength was 380,739 compared to 373,193. Air force strength in 1950 was 411,277, compared to 355,654 in 2000. Only the Marines, thanks to an Act of Congress in the 1950s, have increased their strength from 1950 (from 74,279 to 173,321 in 2000.) But the military, man for man (and woman) is more lethal than it's 1950s counterpart This is a result of new weapons and equipment which, even taking inflation into account, is much more expensive. The defense budget in 2000 was (after accounting for inflation) four times what it was in 1950. Personnel costs are more than tripled (taking inflation into account) since 1950, largely because all troops are, since 1975, volunteers. Moreover, an increasing number of support jobs are being done by civilians. And then there is automation, which has come to the military as it has to most jobs in the civilian sector. 


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