Larry Korb Testifies to Congress on State of Armed Forces

Rebuilding and Expanding Our Misused Forces in Iraq

Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb is testifying today before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Korb discusses the misuse of the United States’ armed forces and makes recommendations for rebuilding and expanding them.

After more than four years of being engaged in combat operations in Iraq and six and a half in Afghanistan, America’s ground forces are stretched to their breaking point. The recent decision to send more troops into Iraq as part of an escalation strategy will only put additional strain on troops and threatens to leave the United States with an overburdened force that is unprepared to deal with the other threats it faces around the globe.

Korb makes recommendations for rebuilding and expanding U.S. ground forces, including:

  • Don’t Lower Standards. The Army and Marines should meet their new end-strength goals without relaxing recruitment standards or retention and promotion criteria.
  • Expand with a Focus on Peacekeeping and Counterinsurgency Operations.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that while our ground forces remain conventionally unmatched, there is significant room for improvement in our ability to conduct counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations.
  • Grow the Forces in a Fiscally Responsible Manner. The challenge confronting the Army and Marines in terms of both escalating personnel costs and the deepening equipment crisis requires significant congressional attention and funding.
  • Open up the Military to all Americans who Possess the Desire, Talent and Character to Serve. The Army and Marine Corps cannot afford to place unnecessary obstacles in the way of qualified men and women who want to serve. To this end, the military should make major changes to its personnel policy.

The United States’ ground forces have deteriorated rapidly over the last several years. Congress must take action to restore the U.S. forces to a position of strength so that troops will not be asked to shoulder undue burdens and the nation will be able to counter the threats it faces around the world.