Sunday, August 21, 2005

US Army: In it for the Long Haul

Military planners are working on a "worst case scenario" for troop levels in Iraq through 2009. The army is confident they can maintain troop levels at 100,000 for at least the next four years. (CNN: Top general: Army preparing for 4 more years).

This is a far better signal to be sending to our enemies than the "pull out now" refrain we've been hearing from certain quarters. Making it clear to the enemy that we're in Iraq for as long as it takes is precisely what we need to do. The only concern here is that we may not be going far enough. While troop levels at 100,000 may be fine for stabilizing Iraq, far more than that are needed to bring the rest of that region under control. What we should be planning for is the troop level needed to support that initiative.

In our current deployment strategy, National Guard troops comprise 45% of the forces engaged in Iraq. Based on the army's new plan, that number will drop to 25% during the next rotation. That's certainly good news for Guardsman, faced with the uncertainty of a lengthy deployment. Under the new plan, troop rotations will be on a two-year basis, not one.

To support new initiatives, military recruitment must increase. Good news on that front comes in the wake of July recruitment numbers where active-duty Army enlistments surpassed targets for the last two months. Reserves and National Guard enlistments are at 80% of the target, so more work is needed there. All those numbers are refreshingly high three years into a war, however, signaling good news for military recruitment as a whole.

Just looking around the globe, there are plenty of trouble spots to keep us busy. North Korea and Iran are the obvious two, but don't forget Venezuela and Ecuador. Both of those are oil producing countries and Venezuela is openly hostile to the US. Ecuador is politically unstable, resulting in a dramatic drop in oil exports. We also have growing problems on our own Mexican border. An increased push in military recruitment is essential. The need for active-duty soldiers in the coming years will increase, not decrease. Of course, as the price of oil continues to skyrocket, the resulting downturn in the economy may well solve that problem for us. The military is always a very attractive option to high school and college grads that cannot find work.


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