To meet the challenges of the 21st century, the U.S. military force of the future must be more mobile and flexible, as well as robust. It must be able to respond to many different types of operations. It must have the agility to respond rapidly anywhere in the world, yet be robust enough to sustain operations over the long-term. U.S. ground forces must be able to muster hundreds of thousands of people to engage in conventional combat or manpower-intensive counterinsurgency operations. But the U.S. also needs a force that is agile and mobile enough to quickly respond to crises around the world in order to conduct combat operations, as well as more delicate peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Rebuilding and expanding the military’s ground forces would enable the Army to become less dependent on the Army National Guard, decrease our excessive reliance on private contractors to perform military functions, and ensure that the soldiers and Marines receive adequate time at home between deployments.
One key step to expanding the capabilities of the force is forming specialized counterinsurgency and peacekeeping units. The reliance on the National Guard and Reserves as an operational force has left the U.S. without a strategic reserve to protect the homeland against both natural and manmade disasters. Congress should therefore establish a non-deployable homeland security corps of volunteer citizens in each state with skills that are central to responding to catastrophic disasters. Such volunteers would include doctors, nurses, construction workers, firefighters, police officers, communications experts, city planners, engineers, and social workers, among others.
These units would serve as a backup for National Guard units, which will continue to be deployed away from their home states. Congress should increase the Department of Homeland Security budget by $10 billion to pay for such a program. This is less than the cost of one month’s operations in Iraq.
For more information about the Center for American Progress’ policies on rebuilding the military after Iraq see: