Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stick Around, Soldier 

You won't be rotating out of Iraq any time soon:
President Bush will use his new budget to propose cutting the size of the Army Reserve to its lowest level in three decades and stripping up to $4 billion from two fighter aircraft programs.

The proposals, likely to face opposition on Capitol Hill, come as the Defense Department struggles to trim personnel costs and other expenses to pay for the war in Iraq and a host of other pricey aircraft and high-tech programs . . . .

Under the plan, the authorized troop strength of the Army Reserve would drop from 205,000 — the current number of slots it is allowed — to 188,000, the actual number of soldiers it had at the end of 2005. Because of recruiting and other problems, the Army Reserve has been unable to fill its ranks to its authorized level.

Army leaders have said they are taking a similar approach to shrinking the National Guard. They are proposing to cut that force from its authorized level of 350,000 soldiers to 333,000, the actual number now on the rolls.
Translation: when the armed forces are stretched to the breaking point and you can't recruit enough new troops to fill the ranks, just pretend you don't need them. Another round of stop-loss orders ought to do the trick. Besides, our increased reliance on air strikes should allow for a reduction in manpower. More dead civilians, but fewer boots on the ground.

The AP article above notes that another possible target of Mr. Bush's newfound parsimony will be General Electric, owner of NBC Universal, MSNBC, and CNBC, among other media properties. GE could lose its $2 billion deal to manufacture "alternative" engines for a next-generation combat plane, the Joint Strike Fighter, which already has an engine supplier in Pratt & Whitney.

Some gratitude. GE keeps Chris Matthews, Rita Cosby and Joe Scarborough on the air, don't they? What more does the President want??

(Thanks to our distinguished colleagues at AmericaBlog for the link.)

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