More on Army Readiness: a topic of increasing frequency

From the AP, via

Up to two-thirds of the Army’s combat brigades are not ready for wartime missions, largely because they are hampered by equipment shortfalls, Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday, citing unclassified documents.

In a letter to President Bush, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said that "nearly every non-deployed combat brigade in the active Army is reporting that they are not ready" for combat. The figures, he said, represent an unacceptable risk to the nation.

This issue will continue to worsen long before it gets better. With spending on the Iraq Problem unabated, including spending on “cost-efficient” private security companies (at what point will we realize in this “Long War” that hiring “temps” is cost-ineffective?) , readiness will continue to suffer.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, said much has been asked of the Army during the nearly five years the U.S. has been at war.

"I have testified to the facts about our readiness and I remain concerned about the serious demands we face," said Schoomaker, adding that the Army needs more than $17 billion in 2007 and up to $13 billion a year until two or three years after the war ends.

What will the Office of the Secretary of Defense say to this? Probably deny it as it continues to attempt to reduce the size of the military (as a cost-saving measure as we hire private military personnel?) in a game of shifting expenses. Requiring State or DOD to hire contractors, of possible short-term value but definitely not of long-term benefit, seems to be the key.

In recent testimony, Schoomaker said that in 2004 it cost $4 billion to repair or replace war equipment, but now it has reached $12 billion to $13 billion. "And in my view, we will continue to see this escalate," he said, adding that the Army is using up equipment at four times the rate for which it was designed.

Schoomaker traced the problem’s origin to entering the Iraq war in 2003 with a $56 billion shortfall in equipment. The Army managed the situation by rotating in fresh units while keeping the same equipment in Iraq. Over time, he said, the equipment has worn out without sufficient investment in replacements.

Also read about the lack of office supplies at Fort Bragg and other fun stuff here… and other US War Debt issues here.