Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Twisted roles - Army vs. Congress

Army wants to temporarily increase its troop strength. Congress claims that this is a half-measure, somehow a budget-minded ploy, and that the Army needs the increase to be permanent. From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Strained by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army will boost its forces by 30,000 through emergency authority it expects to last four years, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told Congress on Wednesday.

But Schoomaker, testifying to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, rejected calls from lawmakers for a permanent increase in forces, saying it would undermine efforts to streamline and modernize the Army.

"Right now, I've been given the authority by the secretary of defense to grow the Army by 30,000 people ... under emergency powers," Schoomaker said. He said the authority from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was to last for four years.


He rejected mounting demands from Republicans and Democrats in Congress to raise the Army's authorized troop levels, which he said would force the Army to expand permanently before it had made needed structural and operating changes.

"What I stress again is we should not make a commitment for a permanent end-strength (troop) increase at this time," Schoomaker said. He said that would result in the kind of bloated, poorly trained force that plagued the Army in the 1970s.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat, said the Pentagon seemed to be ducking its obvious need for more manpower in order to save money for the Bush administration's priorities, such as developing a missile defense system.

"We cannot put the strain on our military and on our American people just because we insist ideologically to keep the budget the way it is," Tauscher said.

She is pushing legislation to increase the size of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps for five years at an estimated cost of up to $4 billion.

Let me see if I understand the issue here. The person in charge of the Army Staff, a decorated general would prefer to limit to go slowly, increase Army troop strength on a temporary basis and make sure that the new troops are integrated in a manner necessary for today's high-professional Army. Congresswoman Tauscher has twin areas of specialization - childcare and nuclear proliferation. The closest she seems to have come to the battlefield seems to have the lectures of the type given at Berkley with the purpose of discussing

her views on the destabilizing effects of current U.S. foreign policy.

I am not exactly sure how adding 30,000 troops to the USA Army permanently will help to stabilize the world according to the Berkley crowd, but I think this paragraph from her congressional bio helps to explain the militaristic swing

Rep. Tauscher is the only member of Congress to have two national defense laboratories – Lawrence Livermore and Sandia California – in her district. The district also includes Camp Parks Army Reserve facility and Travis Air Force Base, home of the 60th Air Mobility Wing.

I feel slightly evil for singling out the congresswoman from what seems like a pack of pork-seeing politicians, but it seems like the efforts of the lawmakers are yet again motivated by pork instead of real compassion for the soldiers or concern for our national security. I am also a bit annoyed how military opinions are taken by Democrats as infallable voices of wisdom whenever they disagree with the Administration publicly or privately. However, these same voices are suddenly ideological and budgetary sharlatans when they refuse to agree with a $5billion pork barrel. Sorry, you cannot have it both ways.

ps. Correction. You could have it both ways if you were capable of always determining the truth, which I guess is what most politicians make themselves out to be. Unless of course they were misled by a President, who you know to always lie except in the cases were you believed him.


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