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Giuliani Backs Army Buildup Nearing 600K

AP | May 06, 2007 

CHARLESTON, S.C. Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Saturday called for boosting the Army by another 35,000 troops, saying the nation must project strength and better handle the aftermath of war.

"President Bush has increased our military strength and further increases are planned, but we need to do more _ much more. We need a force that can both deter aggression and meet many challenges that may come our way," the former New York City mayor told a class of 438 cadets during a commencement speech at The Citadel, a public military college.

"I believe America needs at least 10 new combat brigades above the additions that are already proposed by President Bush and are already in the budget," Giuliani said.

Brigades typically have about 3,500 troops. The Army now has almost 512,000 troops, the limit set by Congress.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January recommended to Bush that the Army over the next five years increase its active-duty soldiers by 65,000 to 547,000. Giuliani would raise that limit to 582,000.

Giuliani said the new brigades would reinforce the Army in places where they are needed most and help prevent other nations "from calculating that America may be stretched too thin."

The Citadel, which gave Giuliani an honorary degree, is a cherished institution in South Carolina whose cadets once fired on Fort Sumter in nearby Charleston harbor, starting the Civil War. It also was the scene of a tumultuous fight over the admission of women to its corps more than a decade ago.

Giuliani won cheers from the cadets telling them the military needs more resources to get the job done and criticizing past practices of cutting military strength after wars.

"The idea of a peace dividend was always intellectually flawed. It was also strategically flawed," he said. "We need to not only win the war, we have to win the peace as well."

Charlene Gunnells, a spokeswoman for the college, said Giuliani was invited to speak months before declaring his presidential ambitions, because of his role in leading New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

About a third of the college's cadets go into active-duty service or the National Guard.

"The reality is that in this world today, there are people _ terrorists, Islamic, radical terrorists _ who are planning as we sit here at this graduation, who are planning to come here and kill us," Giuliani told them.

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