Thursday, February 01, 2007

A surge with no power, or Part 2 of going to war with the army you have

One of the (many) things that have made me angry about the war in Iraq has to do with the inadequate equipping of our troops, more specifically, the lack of armor, both personal and vehicular (check the Cosmic Wheel Index, main heading "Iraq," subheading "Armor for our troops"). And what really pissed me off was Rumskull's flippant response that "you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Three weeks ago, I posted Why not go to war with the army you could have?, which provided links to a story about a system that could protect our troops from rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) that our military refuses to use.

And this sort of storyline continues today. It turns out that all the additional troops that are part of Bush's "surge" will being going to Iraq without the weapons and equipment they need to actually do their job. Check out these excerpts from a January 30, 2007, article by Dawn Kopecki:
The Inspector General for the Defense Dept. is concerned that the U.S. military has failed to adequately equip soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for nontraditional duties such as training Iraqi security forces and handling detainees, according to a summary of a new audit...
The Inspector General found that the Pentagon hasn't been able to properly equip the soldiers it already has. Many have gone without enough guns, ammunition, and other necessary supplies to "effectively complete their missions" and have had to cancel or postpone some assignments while waiting for the proper gear, according to the report from auditors with the Defense Dept. Inspector General's office. Soldiers have also found themselves short on body armor, armored vehicles, and communications equipment, among other things, auditors found.
And just what lefty-liberal freedom-hating rag ran this report? That would be Business Week.

So, according to military's Inspector General, not some anti-war nut job, the troops that are currently in Iraq and Afghanistan--that would be pre-surge troops--do not have the equipment they need to protect themselves and carry out their duties. And now Bush is sending more troops to Iraq. Thus, it would seem that the additional troops are likely not to have adequate equipment.

And that is precisely what is happening, as reported by the Washington Post on January 30, 2007:
Boosting U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500 would create major logistical hurdles for the Army and Marine Corps, which are short thousands of vehicles, armor kits and other equipment needed to supply the extra forces, U.S. officials said.
The equipment shortages are pronounced in Army National Guard units, which have, on average, 40 percent of their required equipment, according to Army data. Senior Pentagon and Army officials say they expect to have to involuntarily mobilize some National Guard combat brigades earlier than planned to relieve active-duty forces. But the Guard as a whole is not expected to return to minimum equipment levels until 2013, Army figures show.
Let's see...our troops currently in Iraq don't have adequate equipment, there is not currently enough equipment for the additional troops that are going there, and our Army National Guard won't have adequate equipment for another six years.

But wait, there's more...It seems that after more than two years, there is still a shortage of armored vehicles in Iraq:
Trucks are in particularly short supply. For example, the Army would need 1,500 specially outfitted -- known as "up-armored" -- 2 1/2 -ton and five-ton trucks in Iraq for the incoming units, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, the Army's deputy chief of staff for force development.

"We don't have the [armor] kits, and we don't have the trucks," Speakes said in an interview. He said it will take the Army months, probably until summer, to supply and outfit the additional trucks. As a result, he said, combat units flowing into Iraq would have to share the trucks assigned to units now there, leading to increased use and maintenance.

Speakes said that although another type of vehicle -- the up-armored Humvee -- continues to be in short supply Army-wide, there would be "adequate" numbers for incoming forces, and each brigade would receive 400 fully outfitted Humvees. But he said that to meet the need, the Army would have to draw down pre-positioned stocks that would then not be available for other contingencies.
Adding to the crunch, the U.S. government has agreed to sell 600 up-armored Humvees to Iraq this year for its security forces. Such sales "better not be at the expense of the American soldier or Marine," Speakes told defense reporters recently, saying U.S. military needs must take priority.
The effects of the overall equipment shortage go well beyond Iraq.
The [troop] increase would also further degrade the readiness of U.S.-based ground forces, hampering their ability to respond quickly, fully trained and well equipped in the case of other military contingencies around the world and increasing the risk of U.S. casualties, according to Army and Marine Corps leaders.
"To meet combatant commanders' immediate wartime needs, we pooled equipment from across the force to equip soldiers deploying in harm's way," [Army Chief of Staff Peter J. Schoomaker testified last week before the House Armed Services Committee]. "This practice, which we are continuing today, increases risk for our next-to-deploy units and limits our ability to respond to emerging strategic contingencies."
In summary,
  • the troops already in Iraq don't have adequate equipment;
  • two years after it was made an issue there still are not enough armored vehicles for our troops;
  • the Army National Guard, which will provide many of the additional troops, currently is 60% below required equipment levels and won't be at those required levels for six years; and
  • the surge is taking away from our capabilities to respond to other situations elsewhere in the world, which could include here in the homeland.
So, is this supporting our troops? Is this protecting America? Do I really need to supply the answer to these questions?


Anonymous Ray said...

"Do I really need to supply the answer to these questions?"

If no one else does, I suppose you will have to.

2/02/2007 10:58 AM  

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