An Army of How Many?

Is the US Army too small? A Pentagon briefing last week raised that issue when officials said only two of the Army's active divisions not deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan will be combat-ready during six months next year. Four other divisions coming home from Iraq will need that time - the usual period following deployment - to rest, retrain, and reequip.

The answer depends partly on the Army's definition of "readiness." Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says he's looking into that. But it also depends on progress in Iraq. If the United States is able to turn over more of the security burden to allies or a rebuilt Iraqi force, calls to increase the Army's size may be less urgent.

The Pentagon says the force is large enough. Yet a number of retired generals in recent years have complained otherwise. Congress should keep the matter under constant review.

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