- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sharply questioned yesterday whether the Army needs to be larger, despite warnings from its top generals that the 480,000-strong force has been “stretched” by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With nearly 150,000 U.S. troops needed in Iraq for the foreseeable future and 10,000 more in Afghanistan, questions have been raised about U.S. military readiness if faced with a war in North Korea or elsewhere.

Mr. Rumsfeld said the Joint Staff is “re-analyzing” U.S. war plans to determine whether existing forces can do what they are now doing and still meet contingencies.

The studies, he said, are finding that “mass is interesting but not necessarily determinative,” given the increased “lethality” demonstrated by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“And they are looking at other ways of achieving the kinds of effects that are desired in those contingency plans, and we find that often it requires fewer people than the existing information,” he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld also contended at a press conference that more can be done to ease the stress on U.S. forces without increasing their size.

The following are among the measures he proposed:

• Fill more jobs held by military personnel with civilians.

• Find more efficient ways to deploy and redeploy forces.

• Bring in more Iraqi police and troops.

• Increase the size of the international contingent in Iraq.

• Reduce the U.S. military presence in such places as Bosnia, Kosovo and the Sinai.

“At the moment I don’t believe that anyone that I’ve talked to has evidence that argues that we have done those kinds of things sufficiently effectively that one could make a current case for increasing end strength,” he said.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted the high cost of training and equipping new soldiers and said more troops do not offer an immediate solution because of the lag time before they can be fielded.

The Army’s troop strength was a major bone of contention between Mr. Rumsfeld and then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who argued that the Army needed to add 20,000 to 40,000 troops to its ranks to meet the increased requirements.

Gen. Pete Schoomaker, who was Mr. Rumsfeld’s choice to replace Gen. Shinseki, revived the debate late last month when asked at his confirmation hearing whether the Army had enough troops for the tasks it has been given.

He told senators that the force needed to be rebalanced.

“But I’m going to take a little risk here and I’m going to tell you that, intuitively, I think we need more people. I mean, it’s just that simple,” Gen. Schoomaker said.

Mr. Rumsfeld chafed at the quote when asked about it yesterday at the press conference, suggesting that the general had been misquoted and insisting that there was little difference in their views.

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