Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and other Democrats proposed Wednesday to increase the size of the Army by 80,000 troops as a way to alleviate what she called a “crisis” in the military caused by lengthy deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The lawmakers said they would introduce an amendment to the annual Defense Department authorization bill to raise the Army’s authorized strength by 20,000 troops annually in each of the next four years, raising the total force to 582,400. Joining Ms. Clinton at a news conference announcing the proposals were three other Democratic senators, Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Ken Salazar of Colorado.
Increasing the size of the military, which the Pentagon has called unnecessary, is not a new idea for Democrats who have sought to highlight their differences with the Bush administration on national security. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts proposed a similar plan during his presidential campaign.
But the latest proposal comes amid growing debate, even within the Pentagon, about whether the military at its current size can handle indefinite deployments of 140,000 troops in Iraq and more than 17,000 in Afghanistan.
Hard to argue with the politics of the matter, although this does run counter to Rumsfeld’s desire for a leaner Army.