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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 - Continued

Location: Washington DC


Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I am very pleased to be a cosponsor of this amendment with Senators REED, MCCAIN, HAGEL, CORZINE, and AKAKA.

I understand that we have accepted the Senator from Virginia's amendment paying for these additional 20,000 soldiers in the supplemental.

While I think the Army would be better served by an end strength increase that is not subject to repeated supplementals, I am pleased that we are all in agreement that we need more troops today.

I think it is very simple. Soldiers provide stability. Without adequate numbers of boots on the ground, you can't get security and stability.

That is true in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and the Balkans.

As Senator MCCAIN and I have both said repeatedly, we need more troops in Iraq to achieve stability. If we had put more troops into Iraq after major combat operations, the situation might be very different. I don't believe it is too late. I still think that additional troops are needed.

I also believe that it is my obligation to back that up with some relief for those soldiers serving today. We shouldn't have to keep issuing "stop-loss" orders, forcing soldiers to stay in the Army.

Let's give the Army what it needs.

What my colleagues and I hoped to accomplish was to reassure today's soldiers and their families that they will not have to keep looking at extended deployments and stop-loss orders. Instead, we want them to know that we are committed to making the Army large enough to do the missions America is asking it to do.

Some of our colleagues believe that the need for additional soldiers is temporary. I disagree.

It is true that the Army is planning a major restructuring. This may mean future efficiencies, but we don't know that yet. Like any other major change, more resources are needed during the change. In this case, more soldiers are needed as the Army moves to a more capable brigade structure.

I would rather plan for the clear needs of the next decade in the regular budget. I don't think we should be relying on supplementals to provide the right sized Army.

If I and my colleagues are wrong, then we can revisit these numbers and cut end strength like we did in the beginning of the last decade. I would rather take the cautious approach and err on the side of our soldiers and their families.

I urge my colleagues to adopt this amendment which takes us closer to that goal.

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