Senate Votes To Add 20,000 Soldiers To Army
The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to increase the strength of the Army by 20,000 soldiers, with lawmakers saying the military is badly strained by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Members of both parties said the troops, added to the Pentagon spending plan for 2005 on a 93-to-4 vote, were essential in light of international tensions and the policy of keeping military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere beyond their scheduled tours.
“Frankly, they need more help,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a chief proponent of additional personnel. “This operational tempo is putting great stress and duress on soldiers.” He and others, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, both Republicans, have been pressing for a personnel increase as well as for dispatching more forces to Iraq. The administration has resisted, saying the army has enough. “I hope that the Pentagon and the civilian leadership there will come to their senses and recognize that there are not enough men and women in the military today,” Mr. McCain said. “They’re stretched too thin, they’re badly overworked, and we have paid a very heavy price for these failings from the beginning of the Iraqi conflict.”
Under a compromise, the Senate agreed to pay the $1.7 billion cost of the new personnel out of the administration’s $25 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through early next year. Mr. Reed said the 20,000 recruits were the number Pentagon officials said could be absorbed in the next year. The addition would bring the authorized strength of the Army to 502,400.
The House also approved additional troops, but phased them in over three years.
The piece doesn’t explain how the troops will be allocated or integrated into the force. Presumably, since we’re talking recruits, they’ll simply increase the strength of existing units. There would be value in doing that for, say, infantry units or even military police; additional lower enlisted soldiers would be of limited utility for armor or rocket artillery units.
And John Kerry is now halfway to his goal of increasing the Army by 40,000 (I’m presuming the House will ultimately go along). And he’s not even president!