Speaking with defense reporters in Washington Thursday morning, Army Secretary Pete Geren said he is negotiating an acceleration of the Army’s troop expansion plan—moving up the addition of some 65,000 soldiers by a year. The announcement comes as the Air Force is awaiting word on the makeup of those additional soldiers so it can determine how much extra support—additional airlift aircraft and additional battlefield airmen—it will need to provide. Geren said he had spoken with Defense Secretary Robert Gates about accelerating the five-year plan to get troops ready in four years, which would bring an additional cost of around $2.8 billion. “Secretary Gates has been supportive of the concept and we are working through the budget details,” Geren said. The costs for support and infrastructure are already built in, and the additional funds would be drawn over the course of the program.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.