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Chief: Army will need to be even bigger

  |   March 16, 2007 at 3:21 PM
WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is going to need to be even larger than the service is now planning, the Army's top officer told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said Thursday the planned enlargement of the Army to 547,000 troops over the next five years is unlikely to be enough to face future crises.

"I think the future is going to justify an even larger Army than what we are building," he said. "We have people in the department still talking about there is going to be a day when we don't need boots on the ground and I think that's ludicrous."

Schoomaker also said he thinks the proportion of active duty to reserve forces is out of whack. There are currently 55 percent reserves and 45 percent active.

"I would be much more comfortable with 60 percent active and 40 percent Guard and Reserve," he said.

When the Cold War ended and the Army was drawn down, the active duty was cut more deeply than the Guard and Reserve, which had strong political constituencies protecting them on Capitol Hill.

"There is no military reason for where we are; it has to do with the politics," he said.

Schoomaker also confirmed the Army is facing a shortage of younger officers and the problem is only going to get more acute. The Army is now accelerating by one year eligibility for captains to be promoted to major, from 11 years of service to 10 years.

The service began the post-Sept. 11 period with a shortage of captains.

"That shortage of captains is now a shortage of majors," Schoomaker said.

He said the shortage is not "anywhere near being a crisis." However, the Army is planning to add an additional 40,000 soldiers, which will boost the requirement of captains and majors by another 8,000.

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