View Full Version : Increase the Active-Duty Army ASAP!

07-13-03, 07:03 AM

Increase the Active-Duty Army ASAP!

By William F. Sauerwein

We find ourselves in the midst of a multi-faceted war still unfolding in Iraq, varied other global commitments and expanding homeland security needs. Yet few officials, either in the Pentagon or the halls of Congress, have seriously studied how we can continue to adequately fulfill all these missions.

Our all-volunteer force is stretched dangerously thin, and could lead to a disaster at a weakened point.

It seems the “enlightened” staff at the office of the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants personnel cuts to pay for the technology to transform the force into a true 21st century military. That sounds remarkably like the “We can do more with less” rhetoric of the 1990s. It failed then, and we ignored its consequences.

Rumsfeld repeated this assertion yesterday when, in response to questions about the adequacy of the size of the force, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are no current plans to increase the number of personnel in uniform.

I currently work for another federal agency with similar attitudes coming from its managers and bureaucrats. They all tell the people who work “where the rubber meets the road” how to be more efficient - with fewer workers of course. Yet, managers and bureaucrats are never required to meet the same standards, or eliminate redundancies.

A friend tells me that is because these people’s real work only takes about three to four hours per day. They spend the rest of their time justifying their jobs, building empires, and developing programs that work very well on paper. Unfortunately, these wonderful, well-intentioned programs do not work in the field, but no one cares.

Maybe if the Pentagon, and all other government agencies as well, had fewer bureaucrats, we would have fewer problems. Before we reduce the Army’s active duty strength any further we should proportionately reduce the Pentagon staff. If force reductions are good for the armed forces, then we should spread the wealth to the other federal agencies as well.

The Pentagon’s biggest problem, of course, is the budget constraints. Neither Congress nor the Bush administration have come close to providing the resources required for current operational commitments and developing future combat systems.

But if we are truly serious about fighting the war against terrorism, providing homeland security and anticipating future threats, then national security must have budgetary priority. President Lyndon Johnson made fighting the Vietnam War secondary to his Great Society, and he lost both.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States was anxious to reduce military spending. Little thought was given to potential threats, and existing threats were not considered worthy of a significant effort. Both the Bush I and Clinton administrations cut deeply into our military endstrength because personnel costs represent the largest percentage of military spending overall. This particularly impacted on the manpower-intensive Army.

However, the rest of the world did not become safer with the Cold War’s end - in fact it became more dangerous than ever. We soon found ourselves engaged in a variety of “operations other than war,” that still held all the dangers of war. Public apathy again became the norm, pay and benefits declined, deployments increased and recruitment and retention suffered.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks shocked Americans, and our multiple military responses - including the new dimension of protecting the homeland from terrorist threats - quickly overloaded the armed services - in particular their personnel. To meet the need, the services ordered “stop/loss” actions to prevent personnel from leaving the service, and mobilized thousands of Guard and Reservists to active duty.

Despite its insufficient active-duty strength the Army is still required to answer all the nation’s demands upon it. Despite criticisms to the contrary, the Army is the most versatile of the Armed Forces. It is required to execute missions ranging from clandestine special operations to massive heavy armored battles. Furthermore, the Army is required to put the right force mix, in adequate numbers, all around the globe.

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops still occupying Iraq, and on patrol in Afghanistan. We still have troops committed to the Balkans, Sinai, Europe, Korea and over 100 other countries. All these deployments, whether combat or not, are taxing our military personnel to the limit. At the current active duty strength troops may return from one deployment merely to prepare for another.

Simultaneously, the Army is required to maintain a recruiting command, training command and man various headquarters staffs. The new demands of homeland security will further tax the Army’s dwindling resources as states demand federal assistance. Do not forget the non-military missions, such as fighting forest fires, that cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately, this problem has been known - and ignored - for many years now. The current world problems have merely exacerbated a crisis that many hoped would not emerge on their watches. But in its issue on June 23, 2003, the Army Times newspaper voiced the ugly and dangerous truth, warning that the Army is “juggling forces” to meet all of its commitments. In the event of a new crisis, the Army has no “fresh” combat divisions to meet the threat, the newspaper found.

The same Army Times article stated that during Operation Desert Storm the Army deployed eight divisions to the conflict. That left ten Army divisions for meeting other contingencies, like North Korea, or deterring opportunistic adversaries. In the event of a long conflict, these divisions could relieve divisions in combat, providing rest and refit.

The ten-division force of today has no similar backup. It disappeared in the years of false peace under President Clinton.

As a young squad leader I was taught not to seize more terrain than I could defend against counterattack. I believe that now the Army, and other Armed Forces as well, have reached that point. There is no option but for the president to override his secretary of defense and ask Congress for a major funding increase to support a substantial expansion of the U.S. Army’s active force. The Cold War Army's active duty strength of about 772,000, and 18 combat divisions, met the nation's needs without burning out the troops.

William F. Sauerwein is a Contributing Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at mono@gtec.com.




07-13-03, 07:32 AM
&quot;A friend tells me that is because these people’s real work only takes about three to four hours per day.&quot; <br />
<br />
At the end of the day, they go home. Where do the deployed troops go at the end of THEIR...

07-13-03, 08:10 PM
Agree on your perspective, especially the draft.

My question would be---do we have enough people to police the world? We are thin now and the world is a very big place.

It's never been done successfully for a long period by any country in history.

The most likely country to pull this off might be China.
The though of that raises the hackel on the back of my neck!

The spread of globalism seems to be at full throttle, but also just ahead of our resourses.

Slow down or begin the draft? I wonder what the choice will be?

07-13-03, 11:50 PM
I saw something on this on some station.
The person been interviewed, said that there's ten Army divisions.
And if there a comittment somewhere else.
It will means more divisions added, sixteen was meant.
Training and equiping those extra divisions will cost and where do we get the extra bodies?
They ruled out any draft.
Even Liberia will tax the military as it stands.
We can police all the world.
And our treasures are been taxed to the max.
Where the UN and all the other countries on this planet?
The UN as it was planned would work but as it stands now, it's worthless.

Semper Fidelis