Yesterday, President Bush announced his intention to increase the “overall size” of the Army, acknowledging that the current forces were “stressed.” The Washington Post reports he’s considering an increase of 50,000–70,000 troops.
On June 3, 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) — campaigning for the presidency — proposed expanding the Army by 40,000 troops. Bush quickly slammed the proposal as unnecessary and counter-productive:
Bush’s campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld already has authorized 30,000 more troops through extended tours and new recruitment. He said the country would be “less safe” under Kerry’s approach.
In a news release, Kerry explained the problem with the Bush approach:
The Bush administration is relying on temporary solutions including “Stop Loss” orders, recalling the Individual Ready Reserve and extending tours to meet our commitments. These temporary measures have increased the burden on our troops and their families without addressing the underlying reality: we need more troops.
As recently as six months ago, President Bush was sticking to his guns. From a June 14, 2006, “Statement of Administration Policy”:
The Administration opposes increases in minimum active Army and Marine Corps end strengths in Title IV, because they could require DoD to maintain a higher personnel level than is needed. The restructuring of the Army and the Marine Corps, plus other initiatives, is enabling our military to get more warfighting capability from current end strength.
This “restructuring” was a central part of Rumsfeld’s efforts to make the military a “more modern force.” Bush cited those efforts as a key reason why he believed Rumsfeld was “one of the finest defense secretaries” in history.