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To Surge or Not To Surge

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The President, Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and State have been blitzing the media lately in attempts to shore up support for the War in Iraq. They assert that today's wars must be fought with the same fervor and intensity as when we fought Nazism during WWII and then Communism until its celebrated fall.

While an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that terrorism is a significant threat worth fighting against, the Bush Administration attempts to confuse the Iraq War with the larger war on terrorism and continues to fight a war of rhetoric and political slogans instead of one of action.

When several military experts called for the addition of hundreds of thousands of troops early in the Iraq War, the Bush Administration rejected the call, and instead chose to fight with a minimal force. And now, when our troops have been deployed over and over again; when almost all of our combat units at our bases at home are at the lowest state of combat readiness; and with this Administration's continued insistence to stay a failed course; it is now more obvious than ever that we can not sustain this war on its current course and we must change direction.

The burden of the Iraq War has fallen squarely on our all-volunteer military and their families. They have performed remarkably well, particularly in light of the unclear and ever-changing mission dictated to them by Pentagon civilians of the Bush Administration. But they are overstretched and overextended. They deserve fresh reinforcements so that they can return home to rebuild their units, their psyche and their family and community relationships.

While the Administration stresses that we are a country at war, they refuse to spread the burden proportionately. Instead, they pursue tax incentives for the rich, run up our federal deficit, and spend astronomical sums in Iraq with little or no control over wasteful and fraudulent spending. This is not the picture of a country at war. Consider the following:

The current war in Iraq has lasted longer than the Korean War, World War I and World War II in Europe. This war is the first protracted conflict in modern times in which our nation has not utilized a draft for additional support. If the President is genuinely serious in his comparison with communism and fascism, perhaps he should reconsider a call to reinstate the draft. The selective service provided:

2.8 million U.S. Servicemen in WWI,

10 million U.S. Servicemen in WWII,

1.5 million U.S. Servicemen in the Korean War, and

1.8 million U.S. Servicemen during the Vietnam Conflict

The facts are that in 1950, the United States had about 1.5 million active duty personnel under arms and by 1952 they surged to 3.6 million. In Vietnam the U.S. had 2.7 million in 1964 and by 1968 we had over 3.5 million.

In 2006, the overall active end-strength of our nation's military was 1,367,500. The President's 2007 budget request reduces that end-strength to 1,332,300. This means that there is projected to be 35,200 fewer troops on our nation's active duty rolls this year as compared to last year.

We cannot sustain the President's open-ended, vague and bankrupting war policies indefinitely. He should try less rhetoric and more action.

If we are to fight this war with the same sense of dedication and vigor as we did prior wars, we cannot do it without a surge in force.

It is unlikely that the President will call for a draft. A draft is politically unpopular. But we cannot continue to allow the President to pursue open-ended and vague military missions without a change in direction.

Two years ago, I was one of only two in the House of Representatives who voted for a draft, because I believe if we are a country truly at war, the burden should be shared proportionately and fairly. So Mr. President, you have two options, either change the course in Iraq and reduce the burden on our overstretched active force or reinstitute the draft. We cannot sustain the current course.

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