Saturday, February 17, 2007

MILITARY RECRUITING IN 2006 BEST IN ALMOST A DECADE. Democrats have fallen silent on the issue of military recruiting over the past months, and for good reason. The Chiefs of Staff for the Army and Marine Corps appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee the other day and, as reported by the DOD, stated:

2006 was the best recruiting year in nine years for the Army’s active force and 13 years for the reserve force, Schoomaker said. The Army also has exceeded goals this year and is on track to continue to do so, he said. The Marine Corps will add additional recruiters to meet the growth goal and also will appeal to Marines who are now serving and those who have just separated from service . . .

Two other items of note came out of these discussions. One, the size of both the Army and Marines need to be increased.

“I think that the Army is too small for the century that we're in,” [Gen.] Schoomaker said. “I believe the plan we have is the proper plan and proper slope to do it. And so my advice would be that we complete the plan and we sustain this force. It's my opinion the nation can afford it, and it's necessary in this century.”

Advocating for the increase in the Marine Corps, Conway said, “I believe we're a nation at war. I think that Afghanistan and Iraq represent the first battles of this long war. And I think, like in any war, you don't know what's on the horizon; you don't what is going to follow. “So if asked for my
military advice on whether or not we should look at off-ramping or stopping something short of 202,000 Marines at this point,” he continued, “I would recommend we not do that until such time as we think that this war against Islamic extremists is over.” The Army is set to grow at 7,000 soldiers per year, and the Marines at 5,000 per year. Schoomaker and Conway said this rate of growth will be sustainable without additional incentives to serve or a diminished quality of recruits.

Lastly, and this bears on the Murtha plan to limit troop deployments unless all soldiers are completely equipped and trained --

The Army started the war on terror with a $56 billion deficit in equipment, Schoomaker said. In the five years since, the Army has been expanding and transforming, and ongoing operations have accelerated the depreciation and loss of equipment. As a result, the Army has had to move equipment from units in the United States to those deploying to ensure the forward forces are fully equipped, he said. The units operating in Iraq and Afghanistan are fully trained, equipped and led, Schoomaker emphasized, but something must be done to make up for the lack in non-deployed forces. . . . Conway said that the equipment status of non-deployed Marine forces is generally good, but training is a concern.

Marine units often have short times at home between deployments, so they spend their time focused on training for Iraq instead of training on alternate tasks, such as amphibious operations, mountain and combined arms live-fire maneuvers, he said. “These additional Marines will allow us the additional dwell time needed to train at home station and sharpen those skills that could be required of us in the next contingency, thereby reducing future operational and strategic risks,” Conway said.

We do not know yet precisely how Congressman Murtha intends to word his proposed bill to tie up forces in the US and prevent their deployment to Iraq, but based on these statements, watch for a bill that requires units to have all equipment in their unit prior to deploying and watch for the bill to require the army to verify the units are trained on all contingency missions prior to deployment, not merely mission starndards deemed critical to Iraq.

UPDATE: Far more on this issue from Michelle Malkin
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