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DoD Will Examine Options Before Requesting More Troops

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2003 – If needed, DoD will ask Congress to authorize more soldiers. But first officials at the department would like to see if there are other ways to handle deployments and not raise the troop ceiling, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon news conference Aug. 5.

If after careful consideration, Rumsfeld decides that the military needs more service members, he will recommend that to President Bush. But first, there are a number of other methods to extend the span of U.S. forces.

American service members are participating in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Sinai and Bosnia. In addition, there are U.S. troops based in Japan, Korea and Europe.

Rumsfeld said the department is addressing the problem. Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said the military is not stretched too far now, and it can handle its missions.

Rumsfeld listed a number of options: He said the military can put in place a more efficient deployment and redeployment process. The services also should examine as the Navy is using technology to cut down manning necessary for ships and other weapons systems. He said the services must look at "rebalancing the reserve component with the active force component so that we don't have to have the kinds of call-ups that we do now."

The United States might examine using more service members from allies in some operations and, in the case of Iraq, manning the army, civil defense forces and the police with Iraqis.

The United States also needs to keep close watch on deployments and continue the drawdown in Bosnia and Kosovo and the Sinai.

Another option is to take the 300,000 to 380,000 U.S. military members who are in jobs better done by civilians and return them to military roles. "We need to get the personnel system passed by the Congress so that we have the ability to manage our civil service system, and not have to constantly put military people into positions that don't require military people," he said. "That is a pile of people. They need to be doing military functions."

Rumsfeld said officials should re-examine war plans in light of the new information gleaned from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The new methods, technologies and capabilities need to be used to their utmost, he said.

Rumsfeld said that before he tells the president the department needs more people, he would like to try all these options.

Myers made another point. He told reporters that personnel accounts -- including medical and other quality of life options -- are expensive.

"It's a very expensive solution," he said. "And it's not a solution that comes on line right away. You can authorize it, even provide the money for it, but it takes you time to recruit, train and so forth. So it's not an immediate solution to any of the issues that people want to raise right now.

"If you're going to do it, you're going to have to live with it probably for a long time, and you better think that through carefully, since that's a significant part of your budget."

Rumsfeld said such a step should be taken carefully. "We have a big department," he said. "We're absolutely open-minded about how many people we have in the services. We want to have the right number. And the way to get to the right number is not the first time you feel the effects of a spike in activity as we do right now with Iraq immediately decide, 'Well, the solution's to that to increase end strength.'

"Now we get about the task of really running this place right and seeing that we're respectful of the taxpayers' dollars and see that we make the most effective use of the force. And that's what we're in the process of doing."

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