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Equipment For Added Troops Is Lacking

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/29/AR2007012901584.html Equipment For Added Troops Is Lacking New Iraq Forces Must Make Do,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2007
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      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/29/AR2007012901584.html

      Equipment For Added Troops Is Lacking
      New Iraq Forces Must Make Do, Officials Say

      By Ann Scott Tyson
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Tuesday, January 30, 2007; Page A12

      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 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.

      "The response would be slower than we might like, we
      would not have all of the equipment sets that
      ordinarily would be the case, and there is certainly
      risk associated with that," the Marine Corps
      commandant, Gen. James Conway, told the House Armed
      Services Committee last week.

      President Bush's plan to send five additional U.S.
      combat brigades into Iraq has left the Army and
      Marines scrambling to ensure that the troops could be
      supported with the necessary armored vehicles, jamming
      devices, radios and other gear, as well as lodging and
      other logistics.

      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.

      Still, U.S. commanders privately expressed doubts that
      Iraq-bound units would receive a full complement of
      Humvees. "It's inevitable that that has to happen,
      unless five brigades of up-armored Humvees fall out of
      the sky," one senior Army official said of the feared
      shortfall. He expects that some units would have to
      rely more heavily on Bradley Fighting Vehicles and
      tanks that, although highly protective, are
      intimidating and therefore less effective for many
      counterinsurgency missions.

      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.

      Living facilities in Iraq are another concern for the
      additional troops, who would be concentrated in
      Baghdad, Army officials said. The U.S. military has
      closed or handed over to Iraqi forces about half of
      the 110 bases established there after the U.S.-led
      invasion in 2003. Decisions are being made on where to
      base incoming units in Baghdad, but it is likely that,
      at least in the short term, they would be placed in
      existing facilities, officials said.

      Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new top U.S. commander
      in Iraq, has requested that additional combat brigades
      move into Iraq as quickly as possible. But accelerated
      deployments would mean less time for units to train
      and fill out their ranks. Brigades are required to
      have an aggregate number of soldiers before deploying
      but may still face shortages of specific ranks and job
      skills.

      Meanwhile, the demand for thousands more U.S. forces
      in both Iraq and Afghanistan is worsening the
      readiness of units in the United States, depleting
      their equipment and time to train, Army officials
      said. "We can fulfill the national strategy, but it
      will take more time and it will also take us increased
      casualties to do the job," Speakes said.

      Army Chief of Staff Peter J. Schoomaker testified last
      week before the House Armed Services Committee that,
      regarding readiness, "my concerns are increased over
      what they were in June."

      "To meet combatant commanders' immediate wartime
      needs, we pooled equipment from across the force to
      equip soldiers deploying in harm's way," he said.
      "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."

      Schoomaker called for additional funding to fix "holes
      in the force" and "break the historical cycle of
      unpreparedness."

      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.

      The Army seeks to increase its permanent active-duty
      ranks by 65,000 soldiers by 2012, creating six new
      combat brigades at a total estimated cost of $70 billion.
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