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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Defense Dept.: More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is from the CSMonitor. There seems little reaction against the huge military buildup and expenditures by Americans. Even Obama is promising not to reduce the military but to expand it. So much for change. If he is elected there will be the same U.S. drive for hegemony as before. No one dares suggest a draft of course so what we have is more carrots. I wonder how this scheme will fit with those who are already enlisted and don't receive this benefit:
ALBANY, N.Y. -- How's this for a recruiting slogan? Join the Army, Buy a House. Faced with the challenge of expanding the U.S. Army in wartime, the military is testing an incentive program that pays enlistees up to $40,000 toward a home or a startup business after their commitment. The Army Advantage Fund program is being tested here and four other areas _ Montgomery, Ala., Cleveland, Seattle and San Antonio _ for the next six to nine months.



More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department says
An Army general warns of strain on deployed troops.
By David Montero
posted February 26, 2008 at 10:25 am EST
The Defense Department says it needs more troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Army general warns that troops already in the fight are under too much strain. The warning comes as violence in Afghanistan – unlike Iraq, where violence is down - is expected to increase.
The Defense Department announced that by July 2008, it will have more troops on the ground in Iraq than when the "surge was announced last January, while troop levels in Afghanistan will be at their highest since 2001, the Associated Press reports:
Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that by July, the troop total [in Iraq] is likely to be 140,000. That compares with 132,000 when President Bush approved orders to send an additional five Army brigades to Iraq to improve security and avert civil war.
Ham also announced that the Pentagon believes U.S. force levels in Afghanistan will stand at 32,000 in late summer, up from about 28,000 currently. The current total is the highest since the war began in October 2001, and another 3,200 Marines are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this spring.
As that announcement comes, "Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, told a Senate panel that the Army is under serious strain from years of war-fighting and must reduce the length of combat tours as soon as possible," the Associated Press reports.
"The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future," Casey said.
USA Today adds that Casey pointed out that stress in the Army has added to these concerns:
"Discipline. Desertions and unexcused absences have increased," Casey said. "You're seeing folks not showing up for deployments."
Divorce and suicide. Divorce rates spiked in 2004 but have leveled off, he said. Suicides have increased, however. "That is a disturbing trend," he said. He maintained that the Army, while stressed, is resilient and able to meet its commitments. "It's not broken; it's not hollow."
The revelation comes at a bad time. In a recent survey, Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for New American Security interviewed 3,400 military leaders and found widespread beliefs that the war has "stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin." More than half the officers also said the war had not broken the military. (A PDF copy of the report is available here.)
In a recent profile of Defense Secretary Robert Gates by The New York Times, Mr. Gates, on a November visit to an Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, is quoted telling a group of wives of soldiers still in Iraq that he knew the 15-month tours were "exhausting" soldiers and families and hoped to return to the usual 12-month tours by the end of 2008.
But all these calculations depended on two crucial premises — that security continues to improve in Iraq and that Iraqi politicians settle their sectarian disputes. If those premises don't hold, further troop cuts beyond July might not be possible; deployment schedules might not be relaxed, either. Under those circumstances, it will be hard for the Army to sign up tens of thousands of extra recruits.
One recent recruiting initiative, which has been compared to the GI Bill of Rights, offers $40,000 toward a home after an enlistee commits to the military, reports the Associated Press.
Still, as the US continues to struggle with its frayed military units

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