Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Army to temporarily increase end-strength by 22,000

Secretary Gates announced yesterday that the active Army's end-strength will be increased by 22,000 soldiers over the next three fiscal years. The last Grow the Army campaign, begun in 2007 and completed a year ahead of schedule, brought the force to a total of 547,000 across 45 brigades. Gates emphasized that this temporary increase will not result in the creation of any new troop formations, so we're looking at 569,000 across the same 45 brigades.

Perhaps the most interesting part of all this -- especially considering the timing -- is the money bit.
Mr. Gates did not say what the increase would cost over all, but indicated he would ask Congress for money to pay for it in 2011 and 2012. He estimated the cost in the fiscal year that ends in October at “less than a hundred million dollars” and in fiscal 2010 at $1 billion. He said he would absorb the costs in 2009 and 2010 into the existing Pentagon budget.
This comes on a day when the Senate is expected to vote on the McCain-Levin Amendment, which would remove $1.75 billion lawmakers inserted into the defense authorization bill to pay for an extra seven F-22s that the Department doesn't want. By stating that the troop increase will occur under the budget already submitted for FY10, the SecDef and the President have taken one more step to emphasize the zero-sum nature of this year's defense spending. Basically they're saying "if we're not going to seek extra money to pay an extra 20K troops, then you can damn sure go without your useless fighter planes." To wit:

“We will take that money from some place that we think isn’t as high a priority as more soldiers, and taking some additional steps to relieve stress in the force,” Mr. Gates said, then segued into one of his frequent criticisms of Congress for adding money to the Pentagon budget for weapons and programs he did not want.

“This is why, frankly, some of the wheeling and dealing on the Hill of a few hundred million here and a few hundred million there for a pet project here and a pet project there confront us with ever more difficult choices when we’re trying to make trade-offs in terms of how do we help our soldiers out,” Mr. Gates said.

The end-strength increase is meant to help fill out units that have taken a hit from high (and increasing) operational tempo in Afghanistan and Iraq, lower personnel deployability numbers (often due to combat wounds and injuries), and an end to the stop-loss policy.

2 comments:

  1. Horseshit. It doesn't matter what they SAY the numbers will be for. The round out won't even transpire for several years, most likely well after the build up in OEF is long over (because we've left, it's been pacified, or whatever), and we begin the inevitable RIFs that hit mid-level USN and USAF ranks over the past several years.

    If it's anything like previous boosts, the actual end strength for trigger pullers rises a mere 8 percent.

    At worst, it's a cynical ploy to present the appearance of manpower adjustement. At best, it's a day late approach to warfighting. I mean, where was this SecDef a few months ago? Did we NOT have enough troops then? What radically changed that has altered the need for more troops in 2013, long after deployments to OIF have ended?

    With the war in Iraq winding down, we need another 22,000 troops like we need the FCS. I bet that we'll see the latter before we ever do the former.

    SNLII

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  2. I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. Gates is lying when he says that we're adding 22K, or that it's to address dwell-time concerns? Or that the additional troops won't actually increase dwell time for other units, or what?

    In 2007, Gates announced a plan to grow the Army. The numbers were met a year early. Why shouldn't we believe that the same can happen this time around?

    Why shouldn't we believe that this is related to the end of stop-loss? Pretty sure all the soldiers who got stop-lossed weren't trigger pullers.

    As far as RIFs are concerned, I don't see any reason to believe that's going to happen in the ground forces. This administration (or really, this SecDef) has signaled a shift in focus to the many and the cheaper rather than the fewer and the more expensive; this means more troops and less DDG-1000s. More MilPers and OMA money, less acquisition money.

    I'm not sure I understand how it impacts dwell time if you're not adding brigades, but I don't see any reason to think that the SecDef is being disingenuous here. Are you saying that he announced something that's not going to happen? What would be the point?

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