Frederick Kagan andMichael O’Hanlon 7, Fred’s a resident scholar at AEI, Michael is a senior fellow in foreign policy at Brookings, “The Case for Larger Ground Forces”, April, http://www.aei.org/files/2007/04/24/20070424_Kagan20070424.pdf
We live at a time when wars not only rage in nearly every region but threaten to erupt in many places where the current relative calm is tenuous. To view this as a strategic military challenge for the United States is not to espouse a specific theory of America’s role in the world or a certain political philosophy. Such an assessment flows directly from the basic bipartisan view of American foreign policy makers since World War II that overseas threats must be countered before they can directly threaten this country’s shores, that the basic stability of the international system is essential to American peace and prosperity, and that no country besides the United States is in a position to lead the way in countering major challenges to the global order. Let us highlight the threats and their consequences with a few concrete examples, emphasizing those that involve key strategic regions of the world such as the Persian Gulf and East Asia, or key potential threats to American security, such as the spread of nuclear weapons and the strengthening of the global AlQaeda/jihadist movement. The Iranian government has rejected a series of international demands to halt its efforts at enriching uranium and submit to international inspections. What will happen if the US—or Israeli—government becomes convinced that Tehran is on the verge of fielding a nuclear weapon? North Korea, of course, has already done so, and the ripple effects are beginning to spread. Japan’s recent election to supreme power of a leader who has promised to rewrite that country’s constitution to support increased armed forces—and, possibly, even nuclear weapons— may well alter the delicate balance of fear in Northeast Asia fundamentally and rapidly. Also, in the background, at least for now, SinoTaiwanese tensions continue to flare, as do tensions between India and Pakistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Venezuela and the United States, and so on. Meanwhile, the world’s nonintervention in Darfur troubles consciences from Europe to America’s Bible Belt to its bastions of liberalism, yet with no serious international forces on offer, the bloodletting will probably, tragically, continue unabated. And as bad as things are in Iraq today, they could get worse. What would happen if the key Shiite figure, Ali al Sistani, were to die? If another major attack on the scale of the Golden Mosque bombing hit either side (or, perhaps, both sides at the same time)? Such deterioration might convince many Americans that the war there truly was lost—but the costs of reaching such a conclusion would be enormous. Afghanistan is somewhat more stable for the moment, although a major Taliban offensive appears to be in the offing. Sound US grand strategy must proceed from the recognition that, over the next few years and decades, the world is going to be a very unsettled and quite dangerous place, with Al Qaeda and its associated groups as a subset of a much larger set of worries. The only serious response to this international environment is to develop armed forces capable of protecting America’s vital interests throughout this dangerous time. Doing so requires a military capable of a wide range of missions—including not only deterrence of great power conflict in dealing with potential hotspots in Korea, the Taiwan Strait, and the Persian Gulf but also associated with a variety of Special Forcesactivities and stabilization operations. For today’s US military, which already excels at high technology and is increasingly focused on re-learning the lost art of counterinsurgency, this is first and foremost a question of finding the resources to field a large-enough standing Army and Marine Corps to handle personnel intensive missions such as the ones now under way in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let us hope there will be no such large-scale missions for a while. But preparing for the possibility, while doing whatever we can at this late hour to relieve the pressure on our soldiers and Marines in ongoing operations, is prudent. At worst, the only potential downside to a major program to strengthen the military is the possibility of spending a bit too much money. Recent history shows no link between having a larger military and its overuse; indeed, Ronald Reagan’s time in office was characterized by higher defense budgets and yet much less use of the military, an outcome for which we can hope in the coming years, but hardly guarantee. While the authors disagree between ourselves about proper increases in the size and cost of the military (with O’Hanlon preferring to hold defense to roughly 4 percent of GDP and seeing ground forces increase by a total of perhaps 100,000, and Kagan willing to devote at least 5 percent of GDP to defense as in the Reagan years and increase the Army by at least 250,000), we agree on the need to start expanding ground force capabilities by at least 25,000 a year immediately. Such a measure is not only prudent, it is also badly overdue.