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SecArmy Warns of Stressed Force Amid Push to Add Thousands of Soldiers

Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Ryan D. McCarthy poses for his official portrait at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., Aug. 3, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alicia Brand)
Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Ryan D. McCarthy poses for his official portrait at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., Aug. 3, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alicia Brand)

The U.S. Army's top official said Wednesday the service may need to cut back on the number of missions it conducts worldwide if it doesn't get more soldiers.

"Unless the dynamics change, the Army needs to be bigger," Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy told an audience at an Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare breakfast.

"The wide dwell ratios put enormous stress on the force, and we can't keep doing this to our people," he said.

Meanwhile, in a background briefing Wednesday, House staffers said the proposed Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes boosts to the end strengths of the Army by 8,500; the Navy by 5,000; the Air Force by 5,800; and the Marine Corps by 1,000.

Last December, the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act halted the Army's planned drawdown to 450,000 and ordered the active force to grow to 476,000.

Army Recruiting Command exceeded its fiscal 2017 active goal by more than 300 soldiers, officials said in October.

Despite the increase, the service continues to struggle with what seems to be an ever-increasing number of missions around the world, McCarthy said.

"Do we have to do everything we are doing in the world?" he asked, discussing the stress soldiers are under.

"I posed the question internally. You have thousands of personnel deployed in 140 countries, I think it is. ... Do we have to be in certain areas of the world anymore? How relevant is it to national security strategy?" he continued.

McCarthy said he has been pushing that dialogue internally, but any recommendations will ultimately be decided upon by the National Security Council.

"We can do anything, but we just need more troops if they want to keep doing that," he said.

The NDAA proposal calls for the active Army to grow by 7,500, while the Army Reserve and National Guard would add 500 soldiers each.

In anticipation of another increase, Army Recruiting Command has begun planning for its active recruiting mission to grow from 68,500 to 80,000 soldiers -- an increase of 11,500 soldiers, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, head of the command, told Military.com in early October.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related Topics

Headlines Army Combat Readiness Operational Readiness Department of Defense Matthew Cox

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