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December 20, 2006

William Kristol: Bush May Add "Up To 50,000" Troops In Iraq Surge

He just mentioned this figure as being "seriously" discussed on FoxNews. It's also mentioned in print here, though without attribution.

I don't expect the number to be that high, but it's good the number is moving up, and away from the ineffectual range of numbers like 10 or 15 thousand.

Of course Bush is finally considering increasing the total number of ground troops in the Army and Marines, which is well overdue (NYT link). We cut back far too much on the active duty strength as a "peace dividend" after the one-time end to the Cold War. We should have known better, but we had this goofy idea that we wouldn't have to fight major wars anymore.

Those were the days:

The increase will not be enormous -- from 510,000 or so up to 540,000 -- and it will be costly. But it seems necessary. This is going to be a long war.

Congress authorized a 30,000-soldier increase in the active-duty Army after the Sept. 11 attacks — when the Army stood at about 484,000 — in what was described as a temporary measure. Army officials say they hope to reach that authorized total troop strength of 514,000 by next year and would like to make that a permanent floor, not a ceiling.

To that end, the Army already has drawn up proposals to grow to up to 540,000, with some retired officers advocating an even larger increase.

The active-duty Army peaked at 1.6 million troops during the Korean conflict and stood at just below that figure during the war in Vietnam, before hovering around 800,000 for much of the 1970s and 1980s, according to Pentagon statistics. Following the first Persian Gulf war, which coincided with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the Army’s active-duty force dropped first to below 600,000 and then below 500,000 before the increases ordered after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Any decision to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps would do little to meet the need for more troops should Mr. Bush order a significant increase of American forces in Iraq in 2007, as it takes considerable time to recruit, train and deploy new troops. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, said last week that the Army could probably grow by only 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers per year.

Army officials have estimated that for each addition of 10,000 soldiers to the force, it would cost about $1.2 billion.

Exit question: Given that hopes of a quick end to the War on Islamofascism seem dashed, and that higher military spending will be an indefinite and not temporary strain on the budget, can conservatives rally behind a compromise tax increase, say, increasing the top marginal tax rate to 37% or even 37.5%? Or even 38%?

Still lower than Clinton's top rate of 39.6%, but still higher than today's figure.

Raising taxes is anathema, of course, but if the money isn't going to soft-and-fuzzy nonsense but rather a multi-decade war for freedom and security, is such a thing more palatable?

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posted by Ace at 03:25 PM

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