"The Army, meanwhile, is considering ways it can speed up the creation of two additional combat brigades _ a move intended to expand the pool of active-duty combat brigades in order to relieve some of the strain on the Army from large-scale deployments to Iraq.
Under the plan being developed, the new brigades could be formed next year and be ready to be sent to Iraq in 2008, defense officials told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans were not final.
The Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, told a commission Thursday that he wants to increase the half-million-member force beyond the 30,000 troops authorized in recent years. And he warned that the Army "will break" without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves.
Though Schoomaker didn’t give an exact number, he said it would take significant time, saying 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers could be added per year. Schoomaker has said it costs roughly $1.2 billion to increase the Army by 10,000 soldiers.
Officials also need greater authority to tap into the National Guard and Reserve, long ago set up as a strategic reserve but now needed as an integral part of the nation’s deployed forces, Schoomaker told a commission studying possible changes in those two forces.
"Over the last five years, the sustained strategic demand … is placing a strain on the Army’s all-volunteer force," Schoomaker said during a Capitol Hill hearing. "At this pace … we will break the active component" unless reserves can be called up more to help, he said." Baldor
The Grand Master has spoken. General Peter Schoomaker has bluntly told the people’s Congress that the people’s army, entrusted to him as Army Chief of Staff is a ship headed for the rocks.
The Regular Army (active force) is going to break, split wide open from stress and grief and family loneliness. There are not enough units to rotate in and out of the war in any way that human flesh can bear indefinitely. We have to have more brigades of regular soldiers to carry the burden. Rumsfeld’s snotty remark about going to war withe army you have rather than the one you would prefer is now revealed as more than boorish. It is the description of approaching disaster, a disaster which will take decades to repair in the fabric of the Army to say nothing of the wreckage of our place in the world.
What about the reserve components, the National Guard and Army Reserve? Schoomaker reminded the Congress that present Defense policy does not allow a reservist to serve on active duty for more than two years in a four year period. This means that units must be sent back overseas without many of their key personnel, men and women who are comrades, and without whom the unit is not the same place to live and fight. Instead individuals are brought in from all over the country to fill the places of friends.
Combat units are like tribal groups. The bonds that make good units into more than the sum of their parts are severely damaged by the introduction of strangers on the eve of battle. In time, such newcomers hopefully become part of the "family" but a high price may be paid while this is happening.
I hope Mr Rumsfeld enjoys his retirement. pl