Gates Eyes $3B Army Expansion

Gates ready to approve major recruitment campaign to boost ranks
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2007 9:42 AM CDT
Maria Thompson, 19, left, an online business student, listens to a recruitment speech from U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Allan Welchez Rivera in Mayaguez, western Puerto Rico, Aug. 24, 2007. As the wars in Iraq...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he's likely to approve spending nearly $3 billion over the next four years to accelerate an expansion of the US Army, stretched thin by punishing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the AP reports. The Pentagon believes the Army and Marine Corps need to grow to keep up commitments without wearing out troops and alienating families.

Gates cautioned that he would not approve any plan that would boost numbers by lowering standards for recruits, such as education levels. The percentage of Army recruits with a high school diploma has dropped to 76%, compared with over 90% in recent years. "We'd like to see that get back up," Gates said.