Hardships will come from longer tours

The Pentagon's recent decision to extend Army combat in Afghanistan and Iraq to 15 months highlights the increasing stress experienced by our ground forces. It's also a reminder that the Bush administration should have pushed for a permanent troop increase long ago. ...

The Army says it is extending combat tours to 15 months from 12 months to allow units now stateside enough time to recuperate and retrain. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that without extending tours, he would have been forced to deploy some troops before they had finished a full year stateside. ...

Extending Army combat tours will create a real hardship for troops now deployed and their families. Along with the growing equipment crisis, this is evidence of severe strain on an overstretched military.

Congress should move rapidly to expand the permanent force and provide the equipment that troops need to fulfill their missions. And with the federal debt still climbing, President Bush must work with lawmakers to figure out how to pay for the military expansion.

The above editorial excerpt is from The Kansas City Star.