Forces: U.S. Army Considers Adding Troops


December12, 2006: The U.S. Army is planning for a long stay in Iraq, despite all the politicians demanding the troops be pulled out now. To keep the current size army force in Iraq, requires that brigades get only 13-14 months back home between 12 month tours overseas. The army believes that troops need at least a two year break between tours. The army would also like to use shorter tours, like the six month tours the marines practice. All that requires more troops, or at least more brigades.

The army is undergoing a reorganization that that will increase the number of combat brigades from 33 to 43, without increasing the size of the army. Already, 40,000 troops have been transferred from support jobs, to combat brigades. There are also going to be more reserve brigades from this reorganization, but reservists have legal restrictions on how often they can be mobilized. Moreover, the army wants there to be at least four years between reservists being called to active duty.

So it's up to the active duty army to provide the troops to covering Iraq and Afghanistan. This means the army is now willing to accept an increase in size. It might take an increase of 100,000 troops to get enough additional brigades to provide that two year break between combat tours. The problem here is that, eventually Iraq won't need as large a force of U.S. troops to help with security, and the army will want to get back to its current size of half a million personnel. That's because the basic army philosophy is to have fewer, but better paid and equipped, troops. The army knows that Congress won't provide enough money to equip troops in a 600,000 soldier army, as it does for the current 500,000 soldier army.

And then there's the problem of recruiting another 100,000 troops. The army believes it can be done, but standards are going to have to be reduced some more. Not to the 1980s levels (which produced the excellent force that went into Kuwait in 1991), but to something lower than there is now. Civilians will only notice it when there are, as a result, a few more high-profile disciplinary cases (like the soldier tried for rape in Iraq). Other than that, and more disciplinary headaches for commanders that you won't hear about, and more involuntary discharges (firings) for attitude or aptitude problems, you won't notice the impact of cutting recruiting standards some more. But when the army is able to reduce its size once more, the standards will go up again.




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