Proposals to increase the size of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps has
to contend with several realities. First, recruiting more troops, training
them, and creating new units for them, will take time. Individual and unit
training takes about a year. Even after new training facilities are built,
you're not going to get more than one new brigade a year. You're also going to
need some place to put the new troops. Some old facilities are available, but
they have to be refurbished. Based on current costs, each new trooper will cost
about $120,000 a year, plus the cost of new facilities (a one time cost of up
to $50,000 per soldier or marine.)
the end of the Cold War, the army had 800,000 troops, and sixteen divisions (55
brigades, including independent brigades). That was cut during the 1990s. The
current force has 500,000 troops, ten divisions and 43 brigades. The current
army organization is different from what it had fifteen years ago. The army is
a leaner organization, with more support services outsourced to civilian firms,
and a larger proportion of troops in combat units.
100,000 troops to the army, would probably result in nine additional brigades.
But it would take six or seven years to reach this number, and would make the
army a less effective organization during that period. That's because thousands
of experienced troops would have to be taken from existing units, in order to
provide trainers for the new troops, and leadership for the new units. Because
it's a wartime situation, the army has a deep bench. Lots of combat experienced
troops of known capabilities. But the loss of these troops to training duties
will make some units less capable.
will also be some problems with troop quality. With the economy booming, and
unemployment so low, standards will have to be reduced a few percent in order
to bring in an additional 15 percent or so new recruits each year. The quality
drop will have more of an impact in the media, with frenzied news stories, than
it will with any actual battlefield effect.
main thing coming out of this plan is the apparent decision to keep troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and perhaps elsewhere, for a decade or more to come. Not
much has been said about that, or the fact that expanding the army and marines
will take years.