March 1, 2007  

Growing the Army

Administration proposals for end-strength increases for the Army and Marine Corps were welcome, if overdue, news for a force that is at its smallest size since the mid-1990s and that is fighting a two-front war.

A five-year plan would increase the Army’s size to 547,000 soldiers from about 508,000 troops today, and the Marine Corps to 202,000 from 175,000. Beyond the numbers, however, are the questions of how to get there, what it will cost and whether it’s enough.

In a two-part debate, Max Boot and Michael O’Hanlon argue that an expedient solution to meeting those numbers would be to recruit foreigners under a service-for-U.S. citizenship program. Seth Cropsey responds that shifting the burden of responsibility of combat to others would be bad for the services and ultimately bad for America.

Tom Donnelly, Fred Kagan and Gary Schmitt conclude that, however the numbers are met, it’s not enough.