22,000 soldiers from where?

1183836576_d9d9b9e83aDefense Secretary Robert Gates says he will “temporarily” expand the size of the U.S. Army from 547,000 to 569,000. The new boots on the ground will relieve the strain on overworked combat units.

Of course, the first question is, where are they planning to get 22,000 additional recruits? The Army has already lowered recruiting standards to accept criminals and high school dropouts who wouldn’t been allowed to wear a uniform 10 years ago. Now white supremacists in all their hideously tattooed glory are being allowed to enlist, so that our ambassadors of counterinsurgency and nation-building will be the White Aryan Resistance. What’s left at the bottom of the recruiting pool? A “Dirty Dozen” campaign where prisoners receive pardons in return for fighting in Iraq? Some people have seriously suggested forming an American Foreign Legion from illegal immigrants who would be rewarded with citizenship.

Yet the more troubling question is this: When can we ever expect a peace dividend? The U.S. military has been operating at maximum for six years. Our Vietnamization (I mean Iraqization) program to hand over security responsibilities to the Iraqi military should mean fewer American forces are needed. More troops are headed for Afghanistan, but it seems unlikely that the U.S. force would grow much beyond the current 60,000, if only because of the logistical difficulties of moving supplies through an unstable Pakistan and erratic Central Asian nations.

So if we’re really serious about getting out of Iraq, then the overload on our combat brigades should start to ease.  So why the need for 22,000 additional soldiers who may very well be marginal human material? Gates says the increase is temporary. Does that mean we’re going to expand the Army and then chop it down three years from now? I don’t think so.

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9 Responses to 22,000 soldiers from where?

  1. libtree09 says:

    There are a little over half a million soldiers in the army today and about one hundred and eighty thousand in the Marines and one million in the reserves. Plus we have fifty three thousand para military…no idea who or what they are.

    That’s lots of soldiers and we need another increase in the Army? The problem is we don’t have enough combat ready troops as in young men to throw at the enemy. To me that seems to suggest a bloated pig of a military. On top of this we somehow do not have enough personnel to feed and house our troops or enough truck drivers to supply the troops or enough soldiers to guard…the soldiers.

    Maybe it is time to stop protecting Japan and Germany and pipelines in South America and put our money and resources where the problem lies. Perhaps we should require all our soldiers be combat ready and be able to supply and backstop our troops.

    We are depending on new troops and the reserve to go to war? We didn’t even do this during the Vietnam war. Either have we pay combat troops significantly more or have compulsory enlistment or stop getting into wars.

    • Michael Peck says:

      The American military is notorious for having a huge “tail to teeth” ratio, meaning only 10 percent of the troops fight and the other 90 percent are truck drivers, clerks, cooks, etc. It’s the American way of war. The Germans used to sneer at us for being soft, until we smothered them with our logistics. It’s a big, expensive and wasteful way to fight. But it works, and other nations would love to fight as we do if only they had the money.

      The Army has done some shuffling, such as converting artillery battalions to military police units. I agree that we should be able to rustle up another 22,000 men, either through reorganization or by using contractors (but then you have to deal with Blackwater and Halliburton). We could move troops from Europe and Korea, but this underscores the problem. The U.S. has and will have commitments outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.

  2. Laurie Essig says:

    Great post. Where indeed? Recently I saw an Army recruitment table at a country fair. Not only will the new recruits be white supremacists, convicted criminals, and illegal immigrants, but apparently people with developmental delays are also increasingly acceptable. Is there a lowering of the minimum IQ requirements? And why not- given the increasingly “democratic” nature of the Army. Perhaps we can lower the recruitment age to 14 or 12 as well?

  3. Michael Peck says:

    The best recruiting sergeant will be the recession. So we’ll have desperate, unemployed Americans joining the Army so they can pacify desperate, unemployed Iraqis and Afghans. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  4. Brian In NYC says:

    I’m not really sure Michael why you find it necessary to slam people who are joining the army for economic reasons (“So we’ll have desperate, unemployed Americans joining the Army so they can pacify desperate, unemployed Iraqis and Afghans.”). Economics and education have long been a reason for people joining the military. And BTW lots of people who have lots of tattoos and wear there hair short are anything but white supremacists. Be nice if you could discuss the issue of our recruitment needs without finding it necessary to insult people.

    BrianInNYC

    A heavily tattooed-buzz headed Jewish liberal.

    • Michael Peck says:

      Actually, a recession should be good for the Army because qualified men who can’t find jobs in the civilian sector will join the military. The problem is with the petty criminals, white supremacists and high school dropouts who can’t find jobs, and whom the Army will now accept when it wouldn’t have 10 years ago. Considering that we’re in the middle of two counterinsurgency campaigns, which is the sort of warfare that requires soldiers with brains, initiative and diplomacy, this worries me.

      By the way, tattoos used be a no-no for enlisting. The Army changed the policy because tattoos are so common now (they just can’t be displayed on prominent places like the face and back of the hands).

      Tattoos don’t make one a white supremacist, but they are a public display that sends a message. Wonder what an Afghan villager would make of your body art, Brian. Probably would find them anti-Islmaic.

      • Brian In NYC says:

        “Tattoos don’t make one a white supremacist, but they are a public display that sends a message.”

        So when you see someone with a lot of tats you assume they are racists? Do I have that right?

      • Michael Peck says:

        Please pay attention, Brian. I’m saying that tattoos on U.S. soldiers send a message to whoever comes into contact with those soldiers. Christian crosses and Satanic symbols on a Marine’s forehead aren’t likely to engender trust in an Afghan villager.

  5. Brian In NYC says:

    Yeah all those forehead tattoos, gotta be careful of those, they are getting out of hand, you can’t walk a block here in NYC without seeing someone sporting a cross or pentagram in the style of Charlie Manson.

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