Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Never Mind

The Army was right to worry about expanding our Army:

In 2010, the U.S. Army met a Congressional order to increase their strength to 570,000 troops. The army did this ahead of schedule, despite having told the politicians that the additional troops would not be needed by the time (several years later) they were recruited and trained. Then, when the politicians realized that the war in Iraq had unexpectedly been won (because politicians were listening to the media rather than the troops), they ordered a sharp cut in the new army strength. Army personnel strength must now be cut 14 percent over the next five years.

Making these cuts has proved more difficult than anticipated.

Early in the counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq, I supported adding a couple infantry divisions to our Army force pool to help with rotating troops. When the Army responded to the need for more troops by expanding the Army by 9 of the newer brigade combat teams with existing troops (by converting units intended for a major war in NATO), I backed that effort as an initial step to see if that worked.

The Army was not eager to add troops out of fear that we'd get them ready for action in time to observe us win in Iraq. Then we'd need to demobilize them and risk disrupting the Army or pay for unneeded troops and risk hollowing out the Army by paying for those troops with money intended for modernization, maintenance, and training.

By the time Congress voted to expand the Army's troop strength to add 6 more brigade combat teams, I didn't see that we'd really need the troops. We didn't. Sure, it helped at the margins for unit rotation, but it wasn't critical to have them. Mind you, I didn't think our pre-9/11 Army strength was sufficient since that level wasn't high enough to fully man the force structure we had, which proved too small to sustain the Army in the field without stressing out the troops.

And now the budget can't handle the new troops even as the war in Afghanistan and the War on Terror in general continue.