Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Longer Tours? Larger Army?

Today marks 10 months in theater for me. I've been deployed now for more than one year total.

Thus, it is with a little anxiety and a great deal of concern that I read the following article on the website:,13319,139702,00.html?

Essentially the article details the possibility of extending, again, the active duty Soldiers currently serving in Iraq (I'm an activated Reservist, btw, and not active duty). Those active duty Soldiers here have already been extended once, from 12 months to 15 months, and I'm not sure what another extension would entail time wise.

I'm concerned about this. I want to make it very clear that my concern should not be interpreted as either pro-Republican or pro-Democrat. I'm also not suggesting any political courses of actions.

But I do think we need a larger Army. A much larger Army.

I'll let other people debate why and how we got into Iraq, and how long we should stay here. Personally, I think we can do much more good by staying here in Iraq rather than leaving now.

However, we must realize that compared to other wars over the past 200 years, this current war in Iraq is not a major war. Regardless of whether we stay in Iraq or not, this war should have us wondering about the overall size of our Army. We are deploying our active duty folks for 15 months at a time, with, theoretically, 12 months at home before another deployment.

And this is a small war. Statistically, it is a small war. (compare the number of deployed Soldiers, as well as the number of KIAs to Vietnam, Korea, or World War 2, and you get the point)

Iraq is a relatively small nation, of around 25 million people.

Our nation's population is about 300 million people. The active duty Army is around 500,000. 1% of our population would give us a 3 million person Army, so I suppose 500,000 means that 1/6th of 1% of our nation is in the active duty Army. Add in the Reserve and Guard and you're still looking at less than 1/3rd of 1%. Only .3% of our nation is in the Army, Active, Reserve or Guard.

The Army, along with the Marines (which is a much smaller Corps), is bearing the brunt of this war. Another way of looking at it is this: 99.7% of the people in this nation have no chance whatsoever of ever fighting in this conflict.

That won't work. God forbid we end up in a larger conflict. What China attacks Taiwan? We have promised to defend Taiwan.

This isn't about the pro's or con's of this current war. It's about the strain these two minor wars are placing on our military. You simply cannot have an all volunteer Army as small as ours is, and be the world policeman. You cannot continue to deploy active duty Soldiers every other year, and deploy Reserve and Guard members almost as frequently, and expect people to stay in the military.

When some of the members of the Minnesota National Guard return later this year, they will have been away from home for 22 months straight. That will hurt retention.

The only proposals I've seen have been to increase the Army by something like 40,000 or so Soldiers. I know GEN Casey has spoken about the need to increase the size by more than that. I'm not sure if anyone (politically) is listening. But we'd better start listening.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think America needs to wake up and realize what is going on, that we are at WAR, and they need to do what they can to facilitate victory. I reenlisted after a (very) long break in service, because I could, because it is the right thing to do, because my country needs me. While others may not have the ability, desire or capacity to serve in uniform, there are many way in which they can help. The first is to STOP complaining. They have no idea what our troops endure while they are deployed (my son has done a tour in Ramadi, my daughter is in Taji now - so I have a pretty good idea of how miserable it is).
Sir, thanks for your service and your insights - you are correct...we need more people, pure and simple.

7:57 PM  
Blogger LauraLou said...

I found your blog today and am adding you to the list of those to pray for. Thank you for serving God and our country. I know we need more people - including chaplains - willing to serve.

My husband is at CHBOLC right now (we'll go to our first base in September), and our son just joined the Air Force. In a few months (if not sooner) he will leave for basic training and then on to pararescue training.

Take care!

12:18 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

The question is how. I'm assuming a draft would be simply out of the question, both politically and militarily speaking. A friend of mine in the National Guard and Army ROTC says he prefers an all volunteer army. That's just his view. What about pay increases, increased health benefits, etc? Just comments from an uniformed civilian.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I agree with your comments that we need a larger military, the only way to accomplish it is either start another draft or lower the standards for those enterring--neither of which may be in the best interest of the United States.

However, I also agree with your privious commenter--we need to start ACTING like we are at war--stop spending frivilously at home, begin devoting resources to a swift and total victory (of which we have the ability) and a total change of attitude.

At present, with a volunteer military, we can still use the argument that those fighting are there by choice (mostly) unlike Viet Nam.

So--what to do? Well, the United States is motivated by free enterprise--so use money as the incentive. Plain and simple.

A promise of college isn't totally the answer, but a start. I am not opposed to a mandatory one year of some sort of public service for every person who reaches age 18. Many in that instance would chose the army--especially if the financial incentives were greater than say building low income housing.

I read recently that what stopped war in Europe was the decrease in family size making the loss of a son very significant. It was that writer's opinion that once the Islamic countries saw a continued decrease in birth rates, they would likewise have an inherant desire for lasting peace. I am afraid I do not know if that is the case or not.

I do find it interesting that in order for me to show love for Alah, I basically have to die for him. Yet, in Christianity, Christ showed His love for me, by dying for me while I was still rebellious towards Him. What a contrast!

William Shakespear once said that we should round up all the lawyers and kill them. I think he would have changed that to journalists had he taken more time to meditate!

Btw--I realize you don't totally like politics (you are now forewarned!!):

To date, based on early polls, we are told that Rudy Giuliani is the
front-runner for the GOP nomination. However, Giuliani
cannot possibly beat Hillary Clinton. Since 1976, no person running for president as a moderate Republican has ever won the election. (Not everyone running as a conservative proved to be a true conservative,
but we are analyzing elections.) Ford and Dole--both moderates-- lost in 1976 and 1996. Reagan, a clear conservative, won landslides in 1980 and 1984. George H.W. Bush portrayed himself as a Reagan man in 1988 and won. But as president he violated his famous "read my lips-- no new taxes" pledge, and was defeated in 1992 when it had become clear to America that he was a moderate. George W. Bush ran as a conservative and was elected in 2000 and 2004.

Moderate Republicans simply cannot win the presidency. If the nation
wants a Democrat, they choose the real thing. This is particularly
true on the abortion issue. Giuliani supports Roe vs. Wade and will never win the support of the crucial block of social conservatives. Hillary Clinton will be elected president if Giuliani is the candidate. This is true of any of the other
front-runners--none of whom comes close to being labeled a truly
principled conservative. Do not believe the early polls. History is a far better means of analysis. No moderate Republican can be elected president.

There are a few other candidates in the race who are properly
described as principled conservatives. None of the media's
"frontrunners" would qualify for this designation. But I believe that Mike Huckabee is by far the best communicator in the race--he is able to articulate his conservative principles in an incredibly winsome and articulate manner. Moreover, among the principled conservatives,Huckabee is the only one who has been a governor. And we have not
elected members of either the Senate or the House--and certainly not a mayor--as President of the United States in nearly a half century (not since LBJ in 1964).

So--that's what this "average guy" in Central Iowa is thinking. I realize others will disagree, and I not only understand that, but I support that person's opinions. I am simply stating mine here.

Meanwhile, God Bless Chris. I hope you get home before the Iowa Caucus'--but it is starting to look like they just might be around Labor Day!! UGH!! (OK--maybe slightly exagerated!)


4:17 AM  
Blogger Bajappenin said...

I think we need to take a long hard look at our military and what effects our money saving, base closing choices have done for us. A lot of choices were made to save money, and to solve the problem of, what do we do with such a large military during times of peace. Someone somewhere said hey, we have all these full time military, just training and using resources that we dont need. Lets enlarge our reserve and Guard, and cut the full time regular military. $$ is what they could see, I dont think they even thought about the possibility of what we are facing right now.

What we should have is a large full time military, that can be rotated in and out of combat. During times of war, we can have quick replacements for injured and killed soldiers using the reserve and protect our homeland with the national guard. What we have is, a smaller full time with a lot of the specialty forces, military police, engineers, being in the reserve and national guard. So, when we have a war, who goes, of course we have the full time, which is small of course, and then a LOT of national guard and reserve forces deployed, because that is where we spent all our money and training. Why, becuase they are only paid for one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year, that was a huge savings of paying for 365 days a year. But who is left here to guard our borders and help during hurricanes? No one, they are all in foriegn lands, our National Guard is the regular Amry. What is left after deployment of the regular Army is who is left here. BACKWARDS and not working right now.

So, back to, what do we do, I dont know, I know we need to have a larger full time military. I am sure we can figure out how to not waste all that money in peace time. Maybe we change the definition of what the duties of the military are. We have so many things that need to be done right here in the US and no money to do it. Lets use the money we are already spending. But that would be peace time, we need to get there first.

My 2 cents.

6:29 PM  

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