Sunday, October 30, 2005

More Army Brigades

In the past I've called for adding 40,000 troops to Army strength. Origninally I said we should have two new motorized division (three brigades each). Later, I figured for the same numbers we could get eight brigades faster. Given that the Army was 40,000 understrength, this essentially was a call for 80,000 more troops for the Army.

Well, by temporarily upping end strength for the war and doing internal shifting, the Army is going from 33 brigades/regiments to 43 brigade combat teams in a couple years. Five more might be formed. Strategypage describes it this way:

The U.S. Army is unlikely to increase it’s size, given current recruiting problems. The army really doesn’t want to increase its strength, knowing that each additional soldier will cost an average of $150,000 a year. The army knows that Congress is basically grandstanding by demanding that troop strength must be increased, but will not provide sufficient money to maintain those extra troops. Thus the army will have to cut back on training and new equipment in order to pay for the additional troops that are not wanted. To deal with the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the army is doing some long-overdue housecleaning. So far, about 40,000 troops have been shifted from support to combat jobs.

So, we filled in the existing force with added end strength and by shifting 40,000 jobs we can build ten new brigades all without a massive increase in strength for the active Army.

As I've said before, I'm more than willing to let the Army increase its brigades its way before I rejoin the chorus of calls for more troops.

Note that this is separate from the question of troop strength in Iraq. I think we have enough and we are winning. The same article states:

Troops know, far better than Congress or the folks-back-home, that there is a war on, and that the army is winning it. While under orders to keep quiet about the “when will the troops return from Iraq” subject, planners can track the growth in Iraqi police and army strength, against the decline in terrorist attacks, and support. U.S. Army troops strength in Iraq will be declining soon, and the risks of being in Iraq are already declining. Thus by the time the army got any new troops, as demanded by Congress, it would have nothing for them to do.

Adding new brigades within the pretty much current end strength helps make sure that in a post-Iraq War period our troops won't be starved of training and new equipment by a Congress that will forget that quality is something you have to pay for every year if you ever need it in war.

And the bottom line is we are getting more combat brigades.