Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Reed Statement on Increasing the Overall Size of the U.S. Army and Marines
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, following President Bushs announcement that he plans to expand the overall size of the U.S. military, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a West Point graduate and a member of the Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement: I am pleased President Bush has finally recognized the need to increase the overall size of our military. I have been calling for such an expansion for several years. While the Senate Armed Services Committee has heeded that call, the Bush Administration has been unwilling to recognize the need for a long-term expansion. Increasing troop strength will increase the effectiveness of the Army and Marines and alleviate the stress placed on the National Guard and Army Reserves. Now that the President is asking for an increase, he needs to follow through and put the money in the budget to pay for these soldiers. It is imperative that this Administration step up and honestly budget for the long-term commitment they have made in Iraq. If the President doesnt put forward a plan to pay for this in his annual budget request then this announcement is meaningless. Since the war in Iraq, Congress has authorized an additional 20,000 to 30,000 for the Army and an additional 5,000 for the Marines. Those increases have been funded through annual emergency supplementals. It is estimated that every 10,000 additional soldiers will cost the Army about $1.2 billion annually. In October of 2003 the Senate voted 52-45 in favor of Senator Reeds amendment to increase the Army by 10,000 troops, but the initiative was dropped in conference. In 2005 Senators Reed and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) sought to increase the end strength of the Army to 532,000 and the Marines to 183,000. The Presidents budget requested an endstrength for the Army of 482,400 and Marines 175,000. That same year, Reed introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill to move funding for the endstrength increases from emergency funding to regular funding. When the FY06 Defense Authorization bill was filed, the endstrength for the Army was 522,400 and for the Marines 178,000. The amendment was not acted upon because the Defense bill was pulled from the floor Reed also succeeded in passing an amendment that was modified to be a sense of the Senate that endstrength increases should be included in the budget and was accepted.