General Schoomaker is quite obviously using the Administration’s talking points. To wit, “Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the House Armed Services Committee today that an unfunded end-strength increase “puts readiness at risk, it puts training at risk, it puts modernization at risk, it puts transformation at risk - and that’s why I’m resisting it.”” Well, no kidding, Sherlock. Of course we should pay for increasing the size of the military.
The great irony is that the Administration has been, and continues to, increase the size of the Army without paying for it. Yes, the White House and the Army Chief of Staff are, indeed, talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Forgive me for the agonizing details, but here’s the scoop. Congress sets the annual endstrength for all military services each year. Right now, it’s 482,400 for the Army. However, in 2001, shortly after the 9-11 attacks, Congress basically told the President, “Forget the law. You can have more troops, provided that you really think it’s an emergency.” Right now, endstrength is somewhere around 12,000 above what is authorized by law.
So, Rumsfeld has drawn up plans using this flexible authority, to grow the Army above its authorized endstrength by 30,000 over the next four years.
What Kerry is saying is, yeah, that’s the right idea, but if we know we’re going to need that many troops, let’s just change the law to provide that many troops.
The White House basically counters, Aaack! If we change the law to have that many soldiers, then we have to budget out the costs of paying for those 30,000 troops… and we can get by just fine if we simply ask for more money each year for emergency military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, er, we don’t think those extra troops will be needed in four years… that’s why we only want to temporarily increase the endstrength.
So Kerry, McCain, Hagel, and others have basically said, Well, fine. We think we need that many troops, so we’re going to change the law. They offered an amendment this year to expand the Army, which was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate.
So then Gen. Schoomaker is asked a narrow question: should the lawful size of the Army increase if the Administration doesn’t want to budget for it? Reference the press release Brutus linked to, and Schoomaker’s answer is, of course, no.
Kerry, McCain, Hagel, and others are on the right track. The White House is really only trying to hide the cost of these extra troops. I have no idea what its motivation is for doing so, but it’s a stupid policy. Even an idiot knows that the US needs more troops, and even a dunce knows that we should budget for them.