Less F-22s, More Boots

Lots of attention given to this initial Obama-Gates victory over Senate pork on the F-22. Less to the Gates announcement that the Army will temporarily add 22K troops over the next three fiscal years. For everyone keeping score at home, that’s on top of the 65K for the Army and 27K for the Marine Corps already budgeted for, which itself is on top of the transformation of the Army Reserve (205K) from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. That’s a lot of extra boots that are, one imagines, meant to be put on the ground.

Max Bergmann is a good place to start
for why this is all a good thing. Try Greg Scoblete for why maybe it isn’t, after all.

I like the way the F-22 decision strengthens the effort to rationalize runaway defense costs. Congress is often good at “gotcha” audits of the Pentagon, but less effective at policing its own pork barrel habits. I also agree with Bergmann, as does Scoblete, that there’s a compelling urgency to meeting the operational needs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So there’s nothing about these developments themselves that I’m troubled by. I remain watchful, though, that they don’t become long-term assumptions that then lead to self-fulfilling prophecies about the best uses of U.S. military force.