Gates, Pace Support ‘Surge’ to Iraq, End-Strength Increases
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2007 President Bush’s plan to send additional forces to Iraq and to increase the military end strength sends an important message to the troops, the defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
U.S. military commanders on the ground asked for and support the plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq to help stabilize the country, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told committee members.
“(Our commanders) have asked for additional forces and are happy to have additional forces in the pipeline,” he said. These additional troops will give them the flexibility they need to “to reinforce success” already made or respond to unexpected increases in enemy action, he said. If conditions on the ground demonstrate the troop surge isn’t needed, the pipeline “can be turned off,” Pace said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told committee members his recommendation to boost the active-duty Army by 65,000 soldiers and the active-duty Marine Corps by 27,000 Marines over the next five years will go a long way toward increasing their combat capability.
At the same time, the secretary said, it will help reduce stress on the force and help pave the way for more predictable deployment cycles. The rotation goal for the active force is one-year deployments followed by two years at home station, he said.
For the reserves and Guard, it is one-year deployments followed by five years at home, but Gates said that may not be possible across the board as quickly as he’d like. “Today’s global demands will require a number of selected Guard and reserve units to be remobilized sooner than this standard,” he told the committee today. “Our intention is that such exceptions will be temporary.”
Even when a 547,000-soldier active-duty Army and 202,000-member active-duty Marine Corps is put into place, getting those new troops trained and ready for deployment won’t happen right away, Gates acknowledged. But he said getting this effort started will offer reassurance to troops serving today.
“While it may take some time for these troops to become available for deployment, it is important for our men and women in uniform to know that additional manpower and resources are on the way,” he said.
Pace praised the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have endured frequent deployments and long family separations to wage the global war on terror. “(These troops) continue to perform magnificently and do everything we have asked them to do,” he said.
The chairman extended his appreciation to military family members who he said also are sacrificing for the country. “The addition of troops, the extension of troops, all impact families, and we deeply appreciate what they do on the home front to provide support to the security of this nation,” he said.