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US Army Can Surge Troops To Meet Any Crisis

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jan 18, 2006
The US army can deploy at least 15 additional combat brigades in a crisis, even though a large part of its force is in Iraq, the service's civilian chief said Wednesday.

"So we have the capability -- to answer it straightforward -- to surge to any crisis that the president may ask us to do," said Army Secretary Francis Harvey.

A brewing crisis with Iran over its nuclear program has injected greater immediacy into a long-running debate over whether the 487,000-strong army is large enough to handle major contingencies other than Iraq.

It comes at a time when the army is scaling back plans to add more combat brigades to both the active-duty force and the Army National Guard as a result of a budget and strategy review that is now nearing completion.

Harvey said, however, that an army reorganization now underway will still increase the number of combat brigades in the active-duty force and the National Guard.

Combat brigades in the active-duty force will increase in number from 33 to 42 over a six-year period, one fewer than planned, he said.

The number of combat brigades in the National Guard will go from 15 to 28, six fewer than planned over the same period, he said.

The army reorganization aims to rotate combat forces so that an active-duty brigade will be deployed for one year out of every three.

For every deployed brigade, two others will be re-equipping and training, and at least one of them, in theory, would be available to deploy in a crisis.

"So if you have in today's world 18 to 20 brigade combat teams deployed, we can surge, with the army force generation model, another 18 to 20 brigade combat teams," Harvey said.

Harvey admitted that the army has not yet completed that transition.

But he said "we still think we can surge with 15 to 20 (brigades) at the current time."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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