Gates considering temporary Army buildup

July 16, 2009 at 6:47 PM

WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering whether to temporarily expand the U.S. Army to alleviate stress, the Pentagon said.

Gates discussed the possible temporary expansion with Army Secretary Pete Geren, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and others officers, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said during a news briefing Wednesday.

Army officials, as well as Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., are "advocating to increase the size of the Army to get them through what is still a stressful period as we draw down in Iraq and continue to plus-up in Afghanistan," Morrell said.

Lieberman is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Gates "obviously has a great deal of concern about the stress that the Army has been under for a number of years now," Morrell said. "And he understands that his prescription that they reduce their dependence upon stop-loss to keep units intact when they deploy has created additional stress on the force."

Gates already announced a phase-out of the Army's "stop-loss" policy that keeps some soldiers in uniform beyond the end of their enlistment.

Gates hasn't made a decision about increasing Army troop strength, Morrell said.

"He is right now still in the consultation process," the spokesman said. "But he is clearly considering it."

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