U.S. Army Keeps Increasing Troop Strength

February 10, 2004

On January 28, the U.S. Army announced that it will increase its size by 30,000 troops as part of a government-authorized "emergency authority."

The Army is already nearly 500,000 strong due to Congressional emergency provisions and Pentagon orders. The so-called "stop-loss" orders recently issued by the Pentagon have prevented soldiers from leaving or retiring from the military until at least the spring of

2005. Over the past year, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and departures of more than 40,000 soldiers. Over 16,000 National Guard and reservists, who were eligible to leave the service last year, now must remain as part of the U.S. combat force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds more in the Air Force, Navy and Marines were blocked from retiring or departing the military. The Pentagon is also offering bonuses of up to $10,000 to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan if they agree to reenlist for three years or more.

Many U.S. government and Pentagon officials are openly admitting that

U. S. troops are overextended and that there is a drastic shortfall of available personnel, especially since many troops are now engaged in combat. On February 4, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told members of Congress there was a serious manpower shortage and vowed "we will not hesitate to increase force levels even more, using those emergency authorities provided by Congress." General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, also told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee last month "There is no question that the Army is stressed." The U.S. Army's current deployments include about 130,000 troops in Iraq, 11,000 in Kuwait, 11,500 in Afghanistan, 37,500 in South Korea and 44,000 in Japan.

These new moves to expand the ranks of the military show how U.S. imperialism uses the youth of this country. They are forced into service - to be used as canon fodder in foreign wars of aggression. As of early February, 2004, 531 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and 3,003 have been wounded, many seriously. An additional 6,500 "non-hostile" injuries have occurred in Iraq since the beginning of the war. In Afghanistan, over 100 U.S. troops have been killed in combat during the past two years. Several independent investigators charge that the Pentagon is keeping the true casualty figures from the public and that the actual number of soldiers killed and injured is much higher.

Many U.S. lawmakers want to further increase U.S. troop deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, for example, has criticized the Bush administration for "neglecting Afghanistan" and wants to increase the overall size of the U.S. military by at least 40,000. Other senators, such as Hilary Clinton, have called for the immediate deployment of thousands of more troops to the Middle East region. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat, recently testified before Congress arguing for a permanent higher level military force. She is pushing legislation to increase the size of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps for five years at an estimated cost of up to $4 billion. Last year, Democratic congressmen John Conyers and Charles Rangel introduced a bill calling for reinstatement of the draft.

In opposition to these imperialist demands for more canon fodder, we must further organize ourselves and strengthen our independent, anti-imperialist movement in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war. More than ever, we need to develop a broad popular front with the aim of bringing to power a peace government. Such a government will withdraw all U.S. troops stationed abroad, end the militarization of our country, and recognize the sovereign equality of every nation.