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DoD Looking at Services' Troop Level Increase Requests

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2002 – DoD is considering senior military leaders' requests for more troops, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here April 19.

"Obviously, we're working pretty hard right now," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told PBS Newshour host Jim Lehrer in describing the U.S. military's personnel commitments in Afghanistan, elsewhere around the world, and at home in the fight against global terrorism.

"We're very concerned about operational tempo and the impact it has on families and for the reserve component(s), for their employers," Myers continued. "And, we're concerned about the impact it has on equipment.

Lehrer cited a recent New York Times article in asking the general about service petitions that he and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld add up to 50,000 more troops to the active duty rolls.

"The services have some concerns. They're working with Secretary Rumsfeld's office to determine what those needs may be," Myers told Lehrer. To free up more troops, he said, the secretary has sought to relieve the military from tasks he believes they shouldn't be doing.

"That will help in some cases," Myers said.

"This war on terrorism is going to be a marathon, not a sprint," the general said. "We've taken some actions to reduce, for instance, carrier presence in the (U.S.) Central Command area of operation. That will ease the operational tempo." Aircraft carriers have crews of roughly 5,000 sailors and Marines.

Rumsfeld has not made a decision regarding the chiefs' personnel issues, Myers said. "They're being debated right now and put on the table to see what the real needs are," he said.

Myers said the service chiefs' primary personnel concerns might be illustrated by a question: "We have new missions -- can we shed old missions fast enough to free up people to do some of the new missions?" Other personnel issues that surfaced after Sept. 11 are absolutely brand new and need to be addressed, he added.

Lehrer asked if a military action against Iraq "would spread the U.S. forces too thin with ... everything else you're involved in."

"I can guarantee you and I can guarantee the American people that we're ready for anything the president might ask us to do," Myers replied.

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