Sunday, January 02, 2005

The World Turned Upside Down

The New York Times wants more soldiers:

Twenty-five years ago, America's Army was a lot larger and had a lot less to do. ....

The Pentagon is beginning to resemble a desperate farmer who feeds his starving family the seed corn meant for sowing next year's crop. ....

...America's diplomatic clout is being subtly undermined. Iranian mullahs weighing whether to give up their nuclear programs may conclude that Washington is in no position to face them down. North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong Il, may also feel freer to proceed with his nuclear plans and move troops closer to the South Korean border. Chinese leaders may see this as an opportune time to escalate their bullying of Taiwan.

Listing all the dangers is much easier than coming up with solutions. But there are some obvious short-term answers. Barring any unexpected breakthroughs in Iraq, Washington needs to increase its recruitment quotas sharply for active-duty service in the Army and Marine Corps.

The current Army recruitment ceiling of just above 500,000 ought to go up to nearly 600,000, still substantially below the levels of the late 1980's. The Marines' ceiling should go up from the current 178,000 to around 200,000. Attracting those recruits will require offering financial and other inducements on top of the added payroll costs.

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