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Rand: Nation Could 'Regret' Undersized Army

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Rand Corp. analyst warned Tuesday the U.S. could “regret” tackling the nation’s three largest security threats with the currently planned reduced Army force structure. Testifying before the National Commission on the Future of the Army, Timothy M. Bonds, vice president of Rand’s Army Research Division, said the shortfall could be worse than just regret because he only looked at the three most obvious possibilities where the Army would be needed: combatting persistent terrorist threats, deterring aggression in multiple theaters and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. “The Army is headed for potentially dangerously low levels of capabilities and will have difficulty in meeting foreseeable challenges,” Bonds said. “Experience suggests that the most obvious threats are not the most likely to eventuate, precisely because they can be foreseen. This means that there is even less margin available for meeting unforeseeable challenges.” Bonds said RAND recommend stopping the current Army drawdown for active, Army National Guard and Army Reserve forces “until the threat of Russia aggression against NATO states in the Baltics has receded.” There is a chance extra troops could be needed above current levels. Additionally, RAND recommends increasing the number of soldiers on the ground in the Baltics and in South Korea, a move that could require building infrastructure. The troops would be placed on either a permanent or rotating basis to cut deployment times in a crisis, he said. Resources also need to be allocated to keep and maintain the “highest possible” level of readiness for active and reserve component units. “This should include establishing plans for mobilizing the entire National Guard and Army Reserve, something the nation has not done since World War II,” he said. Bonds spoke at open meeting of the Army commission held in Arlington, Va. Created by Congress, the eight-member commission is studying the size and force mix of the Army under a charter that requires it to provide recommendations to President Barack Obama and Congress by Feb. 1.