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Gates Calls for 92,000 More Soldiers, Marines

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 – The active-duty Army and Marine Corps will grow by 92,000 personnel over the next five years, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a White House news conference today.

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,center, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, addresses questions at a news conference in Washington D.C. Jan. 11, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“The President announced last night that he would strengthen our military for the long war against terrorism by authorizing an increase in the overall strength of the Army and Marine Corps,” Gates said. “I am recommending to him a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years.”

The breakout is 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.

The increase will make permanent the 30,000 temporary increase in Army end-strength and 5,000 increase in the Marine Corps. Then the services will increase in annual increments of 7,000 for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps.

The Army has a current end-strength of 512,400, with the Marines at 180,000. Under Gates' proposal, the Army’s end-strength will grow to 547,000 and the Marines to 202,000.

“We should recognize that while it may take some time for these new troops to become available for deployment, it is important that our men and women in uniform know that additional manpower and resources are on the way,” Gates said.

The increase will give soldiers and Marines more “dwell time” at home, officials said. Currently, units are on close to a one-to-one deployment to dwell time schedule. The increase in end-strength will reduce the stress on deployable active duty personnel.

Army and Marine officials said the services cannot grow forces overnight. Currently, the active duty Army recruits 80,000 young Americans each year with the Marines bringing in 39,000.

Recruiting officials said that right now, only three of 10 young men and women in the 19-to-24-year-old age group meet the standards to enlist in the military.

Those young men and women have a lot of demands for their services, an Army official said, and incentives for enlisting and for service may need to be “plussed-up” to encourage these people to enlist. The services also may need to put more recruiters on the street.

Training the individuals in the proper military occupational specialties is also a potential choke-point. Both the Army and Marine Corps training establishments have some growth potential, and can probably expand to handle the influx, officials in both services said.

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Robert M. Gates

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