Where are the adults? Is there anyone in charge? Anyone at all? Yeah, I know we have “The Decider”. But I know that there is also supposed to be oversight. And I have the distinct impression that a very large majority of our population would be completely surprised to learn how far under radar the BUSHCO/Neocon alliance can and does do things. Or maybe I’m just reading far too much into what, on the face of it, is being passed off as a fairly routine press release:
President Bush has approved what officials are describing as the most significant realignment of the Army since World War II, signing off on a plan that will keep more troops than previously envisioned in Europe and add large numbers of soldiers to bases in Colorado, Georgia and Texas, Army officials said Wednesday.
The basing plan is the final step in a detailed program for deciding where a larger Army will live and train in the years ahead, as it grows by 65,000 active-duty soldiers. It significantly changes the military’s footprint from before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and alters a global basing plan adopted with great fanfare by the Pentagon in 2004.
The full basing plan for the United States, Europe and South Korea was presented to Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the Oval Office on Monday by Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, and Pete Geren, the Army secretary. It was driven by the president’s approval to expand the Army by 74,000, including the Reserves, to meet the needs in Iraq and Afghanistan and to prepare for future threats.
Army and Pentagon officials involved in the plan made no secret that some members of Congress had weighed in heavily to secure additional forces in their states, and to assure that the plan to hold off for several years the return of two brigades from Germany would not diminish the eventual level of forces to be based in their areas.
The active-duty Army end-strength is scheduled to reach 547,000 by then, as the Army’s fighting force will grow to 48 brigade combat teams from 33 in 2003.
I suppose that my concern comes from the fact that I don’t really understand how a fifty per cent increase in defense combat brigades is achieved by adding what seems to be a relatively small number of Army personnel unless there is a major story behind the story. And then I’m also concerned that Cheney had a prominent role here, because that likely indicates that this was his baby. Finally, there’s the major story in the story. Namely, what the hell are we doing spending scarce resources making our military an even more potent fighting force at a time like this?
See, we really don’t live in a dangerous world, contrary to what moves like this would indicate. Well, that is, except that much of the increase in danger is of our making, and not of our fixing. Take Iraq. It’s clear that conquering Iraq would have been completely discretionary even if every piece of “bad intel” had been true. Had we not gone, some Iraqi’s who are alive today would be dead, but a far larger number who are now dead would have still been alive. Worldwide terrorism would be weaker today than it is. And (probably more to the point) oil markets would be completely different with oil producers worse off and everyone else on the planet better off.
Interestingly, this is pretty much the same sort of result we can expect form any and every major use of our military force in the foreseeable future and beefing up forces from what is already a far more than adequate level only increases the likelihood of use. Ask yourself how many of those extra combat brigades would be pounding away inside of Iran right now if they were just sitting on the shelf gathering dust.
So we have an increased threat to ourselves and the rest of humanity announced with relatively small fanfare. But the larger story may well be how this decision forces future Presidents to implement increased privatization of DOD functions, even if they don’t want to. It seems clear to me that upping the number of fighters substantially while making only a small increase in total personnel shifts people from support to combat. And it does so at exactly the point in time when support functions are increasing, not decreasing.
On the other hand, I’m sure that pointing out that Cheney probably took a lead role in a military design change that will send billions of dollars of additional business to Halliburton yearly just makes me paranoid.