Bush Boosts Troop Levels


US President George Bush yesterday announced a permanent increase in the size of the US Army and US Marines.

He made it clear that the war drive will have to be paid for by cuts in welfare payments for the US working class.

In a statement at the White House, Bush said: ‘I have been consulting closely with our commanders and the joint chiefs of staff on the strategy in Iraq, and on the broader war on terror.’

He added that ‘one of our top priorities’ is that ‘the men and women in uniform have everything they need to do their jobs’.

He warned that the ‘war on terror’ will ‘require a sustained commitment from the American people and our military’.

Bush continued: ‘We have an obligation to ensure our military is capable of sustaining this war for the long haul in performing the many tasks that we ask of them.

‘I’m inclined to believe that we need an increase in the permanent size of both the United States Army and the United States Marines.

‘I’ve asked (new defence) secretary Gates to determine how such an increase could take place and report back to me as quickly as possible.’

He said he will work with Congress ‘as we develop the specifics of the proposals over the coming weeks’.

Bush admitted ‘2006 was a difficult year for our troops’ in Iraq.

Referring to the Iraqi resistance, he said that ‘the enemies of liberty’ have had success and ‘kept Iraq’s unity government and our coalition from establishing security and stability throughout the country’.

He added: ‘I’m not going to make predictions about what 2007 will look like in Iraq, except that it’s going to require difficult choices and additional sacrifices.’

He commented: ‘The advance of liberty has never been easy and Iraq is proving how tough it can be’, but America’s safety and security ‘requires that we do not let up’.

Moving on, Bush said ‘this war begins with keeping our economy going at home’ and appealed to US workers and the middle class to ‘go shopping more’.

Turning on the US working class, he said ‘we must reduce the number of earmarks inserted in the large spending bill and reform the earmarks process to make it more transparent’.

This was taken to mean savage cuts in welfare payments.

• Second news story


The University of Plymouth is cutting 100 places on its nursing training courses because it says NHS demand for such trained staff has dropped.

The Royal College of Nursing said it was ‘very concerned’ about the reduction in student places.

Pro vice-chancellor for health Professor Mary Watkins said: ‘It is not in the interests of the university, NHS or students to be training nurses when there are insufficient jobs for current contracted numbers.

‘It is therefore hoped that the proposed reduction of 100 nursing student places per annum will reduce the risk of unemployed University of Plymouth nursing graduates in future years.’

The university said it would now be funded for 450 course places from September 2007.

The university said it was expected that its campus in Exeter would close from September 2008 as a result of the cut in course places.

However, it claimed that Exeter would still be contributing to nurse education, through clinical placements in the city.

The university added that it would be able to safeguard the high quality of its programmes by concentrating its training places in Plymouth, Taunton and Truro.

The university said it hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies as a result of the changes and that support packages would be available to staff and students affected by the move.

Hospitals in Devon and Cornwall are freezing nursing posts and closing wards as part of measures to tackle projected deficits.

l Healthcare Commis-sion figures show none of the UK’s private biggest hospital corporations – Bupa, BMI, Capi and Nuffield – met all the minimum standards required by their licences.

Eleven of the 21 private treatment centres carrying out work on NHS contracts did not meet the minimum standards required.

Data showed one-in-five private mental health units were not meeting at least five targets, which cover everything from infection control to staff training.