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Matt Bennett, Vice President for Public Affairs
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Press Release


Third Way Calls On Senate To Include 100,000 New Troops In Defense Bill

New Report Shows Current Army Stretched Dangerously Thin

Washington — In a move timed to coincide with the Senate’s consideration of the FY 2006 Department of Defense Authorization Bill, Third Way today released a report with alarming data showing that the size of the U.S. Army is insufficient to meet current demands on the force as well as future threats. The report, entitled Boots on the Ground: Increasing the Size of the Army to Meet the Missions of the 21st Century, examines current deployment status, troop rotation issues, recruitment and retention problems, and the impact of National Guard and Reserve deployment on local communities and concludes that the demands on today’s Army require a permanent size increase of 100,000 troops.

Third Way President Jonathan Cowan said in a statement: “We hope that this report serves as a wake-up call to policymakers in Washington — the soldiers of today’s Army are among the finest ever to wear the uniform, but there are too few of them to fulfill today’s missions and meet tomorrow’s threats.” Noting that the Senate is preparing to debate the annual bill that sets policy for the US military, Cowan continued: “even though the Bush Administration has not asked for it, Congress must provide 100,000 new soldiers to help our military defend the American people at home and protect our vital interests abroad.”

The Third Way report notes that years of post-Cold War downsizing have resulted in a nearly 40% decrease in permanent Army end-strength, even as operational deployments have increased by 300%. With 75% of the Army’s combat brigades actively engaged in or supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the Army is stretched dangerously thin. Based on the extraordinary stresses facing the Army, the report makes the following four findings:

  1. The Army’s ability to meet potential future threats is increasingly imperiled.
  2. The Army cannot rotate its troops through proper rest and training cycles.
  3. Recruitment and retention are suffering.
  4. The Army’s historically high reliance on the Guard and Reserve is draining communities of essential first responders.

The report’s author, Dr. Aaron Scholer, commented that “despite declarations of a ‘Global War on Terror,’ the Army’s permanent end-strength has not increased appreciably over peacetime levels in the wake of 9/11 or the occupation of Iraq. Throughout our history we have grown the Army to meet the demands of war. But despite the recent tectonic shifts in the security landscape, the Administration has not taken substantive steps to grow the Army to match them. The mission and the manpower don’t match up.”

The report cites a number of active and retired generals on the need to increase the size of the force, including former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who said upon his retirement: “Beware the 12-division strategy for the 10-division Army.” The report quotes many of the generals and other experts calling for an increase in Army size by roughly 100,000 troops.

The report was issued by Third Way’s National Security Project, which Dr. Scholer’s directs.

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Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212

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