Ground Forces Growth:

The Defense Department wants $20.5 billion in Fiscal 2009 to continue expanding the size of the Army and Marine Corps. In Fiscal 2009, the Army would add 7,000 active duty soldiers to its rolls, increasing its end strength to 532,400 en route to the goal of 547,000 soldiers in 2012, according to DOD budget documents and officials. It would gain two full Brigade Combat Teams in 2009, making a total of 42 BCTs out of the 48 planned by 2012. The Marine Corps would add 5,000 marines in 2009, reaching an active duty end strength of 175,000 or enough for 2.5 Marine Expeditionary Forces. At the end of this planned increase, in 2012, the Corps would have 202,000 active duty personnel, filling three MEFs. The Air Force has been in consultation with the other services over the five-year plan that would add 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines by 2012 (the Army would like to accelerate that) to determine what additional airlift and other Air Force support it should provide. Supposition has been that the ground boost would require not only additional battlefield airmen but also additional strategic airlift. However, Vice Adm. Steve Stanley, the joint staff’s director of force structure, resources, and assessment, said on Feb. 4 this might not be the case.