- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2001

The Army is fighting to maintain its 10 active combat divisions in the face of suggestions from some Pentagon officials that trimming soldiers would help pay for the next generation of warplanes, ships and armored vehicles.
Pentagon officials said in interviews that no senior aide has yet recommended Army troop cuts to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is overseeing a thorough review of military strategy and the force structure needed to carry it out.
But the officials said the option is being discussed at lower levels as the Pentagon last month began writing a new Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) mandated by Congress and due Sept. 30.
A senior Army officer said his service has prepared arguments to dissuade Mr. Rumsfelds top aides from agreeing to a smaller Army. The Air Force, for one, has spent the post-Cold War era arguing that air power can blunt enemy invasions, an indirect way of saying fewer ground troops are needed.
"The thing about cutting force structure is that you get a cut within a cut within a cut," said a senior Army officer. "You cut personnel, recruiting, retention and salary expenses. These cuts are much more significant to the long-term budget than, say, the decision to not field the Armys Crusader artillery system, which just saves a few billion dollars over a few years."
But a senior Pentagon official said that while various options have been discussed, no one in the QDR process has yet proposed cutting the armed forces 1.36 million active-duty roster.
"Theres nothing Ive heard yet that the administration is seriously looking at reducing anybodys force structure," said this official, who asked not to be named.
"That doesnt mean [Mr. Rumsfeld] wont be doing that later this summer."
The official said it would be difficult to trade Army formations for more weapons as long as the United States has a need to keep 200,000 troops in the Pacific region and in Europe.
Mr. Rumsfeld, while in Europe last week meeting with NATO officials, did not rule out a shift in Europe-based forces.
"We are of course looking at how forces are arranged, and force structures — apart from size — in addition to the question of structure, and what might come out of it, I dont know," he told reporters. "Were not at that stage… . There has been no discussion of troop adjustments in Europe and it would be wrong to inject that into discussion and cause tremors unnecessarily and inaccurately, so please dont."
Four years ago, the service was one QDR draft away from losing two divisions.
The Army top brass mounted a full-court press to convince Defense Secretary William S. Cohen that abolishing two divisions put the country at risk of not having a national military capability of fighting two regional wars simultaneously.
This time around, however, the stars are aligned differently.
Mr. Rumsfeld openly muses about changing the two-war strategy.
Pentagon officials say one option is a "one-war-plus" declaration. This would mean sizing the force to fight one regional war, while carrying out a multitude of smaller missions such as peacekeeping and "coercive" bombing to gain a diplomatic objective.
If the two-war goal is amended, the Pentagon could try to justify troops cuts.
Mr. Rumsfeld has said repeatedly in recent interviews that he has not decided whether to keep the two-war goal or amend it.
The Air Force has good reason to argue for a smaller Army. Two of its top priorities, the F-22 stealth fighter and the multi-service Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), carry long-term costs of $62 billion and $300 billion, respectively.
There is not enough money to fund these and other high-priced systems unless President Bush is willing to support huge increases in defense spending.
So far, the White House is willing to approve no more than $30 billion in additional money for next years defense budget, meaning something, troops or systems, will have to be scaled back.
The Congressional Budget Office has said the Pentagon needs $30 billion more in procurement accounts alone to replace aging weapons and equipment.
Pentagon analysts say a cut of two divisions could mean elimination of as many as 100,000 soldiers from the Armys authorized end strength of 480,000.
This could also lead to reduction in Guard and Reserve units.
At that juncture, political sparks would fly.
Under the current QDR, the Pentagon was supposed to trim 45,000 Guardsmen and Reserves from a total force of just under 900,000.
But after imposing the first 20,000 cuts, the Pentagon ran up against stiff opposition from Congress and canceled further trims in the forces.

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