View Full Version : The Army We Need

Tom Odom
05-31-2007, 03:18 PM
OK I am going to do something I never really thought I would even consider--offer an article from the Weekly Standard, penned by an analyst at AEI. In this case, however, Tom Donnelly looks at the issue of force size in structure with a logical approach.



Weekly Standard
June 4, 2007
Pg. 21

The Army We Need (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/696spjpr.asp)

We can't fight The Long War with the forces we have.

By Tom Donnelly

In wartime Washington there is but one point of bipartisan agreement: The land forces of the United States are too small. Hillary Clinton may be trying to make her fellow Democrats forget her vote to go to war in Iraq, but she insists that "it is past time to increase the end-strength of the Army and Marines." Sen. Barack Obama agrees, and even the New York Times has editorialized that "larger ground forces are an absolute necessity for the sort of battles that America is likely to fight during the coming decades."

On the Republican side, the leading candidates are straining to one-up each other on the issue. Rudy Giuliani wants to enlarge the Army by about 70,000 from its current strength of 510,000 active-duty soldiers. Mitt Romney thinks 100,000 is a better number. John McCain is working with his advisers to formulate his answer, but he might well trump his rivals.

And with Donald Rumsfeld at last departed from the Pentagon, even President Bush has opened his mind. Announcing the Iraq "surge," the president allowed as how he was "inclined to believe that we need to increase the permanent size of both the United States Army and United States Marines."

As a political matter and as a strategic impulse, this is long overdue. But it is only a starting point. In the near term, given the stresses of dual surges in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deleterious effects of more than a decade of neglect, almost any plan to expand U.S. land forces will help. But the larger project of rebuilding the Marines and, especially, the U.S. Army to sustain the demands of a new era will require as much thought as money. And it's a job that will fall mostly to our next president; the Bush administration can only begin the process. To properly size and shape American land forces--so that the Marine Corps and the Army complement each other--we must answer five questions. Read the full article (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/696spjpr.asp)

05-31-2007, 05:28 PM
What about, bringing back the draft, for service in country?
Boom problem solved! :D

The right solution is not to deprive the Marines of the people--or the other resources--they need, but rather to restore the Army to sufficient strength to carry a larger load in the years to come. It is not only a wiser way to prosecute the long-duration missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it would release a larger portion of the Marine Corps to do those missions for which it is uniquely suited. The Gates Plan does not appear to reflect a fully considered, more holistic approach to sizing U.S. land forces. Paradoxically, this diminishes the value of unique formations like the Marines or Army airborne or air mobile units by treating them simply as more cogs in the force-generation machine. The Marines number of 202,000 is not wrong, but the Army number of 547,000 is wrong in a way that will have consequences for the entire force.

Thus the most important step in fixing what's wrong with our land forces is to build a regular Army capable of conducting The Long War at a reasonable pace of deployments, without so completely engaging its own reserve components or the Marine Corps. A rough estimate would mean an active force of approximately 750,000 soldiers, still a smaller Army than at the end of the Cold War but an expansion roughly five times that envisioned by the Bush administration. Even at a faster pace of expansion such growth could well require the better part of a decade.

The Costs

It would also cost a lot of money. Just how much depends not only on the number of troops but the nature of their equipment--and that's an equally important question to ponder. The unfortunate fact is that much of the military transformation of the past decade has gone to purchase equipment of doubtful utility in The Long War. As a result, ground force modernization has lagged far behind, while the increased pace of operations and unexpected combat losses have depleted the fleet of vehicles, aircraft, and gear of all sorts. The sizable supplemental appropriations of the past two years are helping to reset the ground forces, but not nearly enough to restore the necessary technological edge. The Army's force management and comptroller staffs estimate that the Army has "skipped" about $100 billion in new gear over the past decade. The danger is, as Democratic senator Carl Levin has explained, that we will create "a larger version of a less-ready force." Any expansion needs to be balanced with equal equipment modernization.

Many of the current estimates of the cost of expansion exclude these equipment costs. For example, a recent Congressional Budget Office study of the administration's expansion plans puts the annual increase at $14 billion by the time the Gates Plan is complete. Perhaps a better methodology, if still crude, is to use the Army's estimate of the cost of the "doctrinal" current force--that is, the force as it would be if it had all the right equipment, staffing, and resources--and do a proportional calculation. So if the cost of sustaining a force with an active component of 510,000 is, as estimated by the Army, $138 billion per year in 2008 dollars, then an Army half again as large is likely to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 billion per year. Again, the methodology is far from precise, but absent a better one, it serves as a benchmark. It's also a measure of the inadequacy of the current baseline budget: For 2007, before supplementals, the formal Army budget was $112 billion. I am not aware of a similar "doctrinal" cost estimate for the Marines, but it's a reasonable assumption that the gap between ends and means is similar.