SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 74
September 6, 2016

Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/

HOW BIG SHOULD THE ARMY BE?

In its version of the pending defense authorization bill, the House of Representatives said that the U.S. Army should consist of 480,000 soldiers at the end of FY2017. That would be an increase of 5,000 over the current year level of 475,000.

But the Senate said that 460,000 soldiers would be sufficient, a decrease of 15,000.

Meanwhile, the Department of Defense itself is proposing to reduce Army "end strength" down to 450,000 soldiers by the end of FY 2018.

So how big should the Army be?

The answer is-- it depends. What it depends on is, among other things, what the Army is for in the first place, what resources are available, what competing priorities need attention, and what changes in the threat environment can be foreseen.

These issues are illuminated in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. Instead of proposing its own answer to the question, the CRS report examines the premises underlying the diverse positions on the subject, helping to explain how different people could arrive at different conclusions. It is unclear that congressional leaders have any appetite for this kind of analysis, but others who are not already ideologically committed to a position might benefit from it.

"For many observers, questions regarding the appropriate end strength of the Army are related to the changing international security landscape, and the perception that those changes are resulting in heightened threats to the United States and its interests abroad. For others, the cost of increasing the size of the Army is the predominant factor," the report said.

In any case, "Although the international security environment is arguably becoming more challenging and complex, the role of ground forces--relative to other services--in helping the nation meet those challenges is somewhat unclear."

One threshold question, therefore, is: "What are the tasks that the Army, specifically, needs to accomplish for the nation?"

See How Big Should the Army Be? Considerations for Congress, September 2, 2016:

Some related official resources include the following.

Report of the National Commission on the Future of the Army, report to the President and the Congress of the United States, January 28, 2016:

Notification to Congress on the Permanent Reduction of Sizable Numbers of Members of the Armed Forces, US Army report to Congress (via FOIA), July 2015:

Force Structure and Force Design Updates, Army G3/5/7 briefing (FOUO), August 2015:

Stability [on joint stability operations], Joint Publication 3-07, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 3, 2016:


UPDATE ON COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN, & MORE FROM CRS

The Congressional Research Service has prepared an updated account of the status of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty (CTBT), which would prohibit explosive testing of nuclear weapons.

"As of August 2016, 183 states had signed the CTBT and 164, including Russia, had ratified it. However, entry into force requires ratification by 44 states specified in the treaty, of which 41 had signed the treaty and 36 had ratified." The U.S. has not ratified it.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the CTBT tomorrow, September 7.

See Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments, September 1, 2016:

Other new and updated products from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Climate Change: Frequently Asked Questions about the 2015 Paris Agreement, September 1, 2016:

U.S. Textile Manufacturing and the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, September 1, 2016:

Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2017: Fact Sheet, September 2, 2016:

OPM Announces Premium Increase in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program, CRS Insight, September 1, 2016:

The European Union's Small Business Act: A Different Approach, September 1, 2016:

Zika Response Funding: Request and Congressional Action, updated September 1, 2016:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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