Another Democratic Target For Investigation
Is it not the height of negligence to forge head first into a war without planning and adequately resourcing the maintenance and replacement of combat equipment?
Field upon field of more than 1,000 battered M1 tanks, howitzers and other armored vehicles sit amid weeds here at the 15,000-acre Anniston Army Depot -- the idle, hulking formations symbolic of an Army that is wearing out faster than it is being rebuilt.
The Army and Marine Corps have sunk more than 40 percent of their ground combat equipment into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to government data. An estimated $17 billion-plus worth of military equipment is destroyed or worn out each year, blasted by bombs, ground down by desert sand and used up to nine times the rate in times of peace. The gear is piling up at depots such as Anniston, waiting to be repaired.
That’s billion, with a “b”. But before the neocons embarked on their war, they surely planned for this and allocated enough money for support and replacement, right, so that our troops would not be endangered? They didn’t give all these billions to Halliburton and the rest of the private defense contractors rather than the services, did they?
Equipment shipped back from Iraq is stacking up at all the Army depots: More than 530 M1 tanks, 220 M88 wreckers and 160 M113 armored personnel carriers are sitting at Anniston. The Red River Army Depot in Texas has 700 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 450 heavy and medium-weight trucks, while more than 1,000 Humvees are awaiting repair at the Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.
Despite the work piling up, the Army's depots have been operating at about half their capacity because of a lack of funding for repairs. In the spring, a funding gap caused Anniston and other depots to lose about a month's worth of work, said Brig. Gen. Robert Radin, deputy chief of staff for operations at the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir.
"Last year we spent as much time trying to find available money as managing our program," he said. "We don't want to go into the next rotation . . . with equipment that's at the far end of its expected life."
Rummy’s Army had to go looking for money? I think that the new Democratic committee chairmen, like war supporter Joe Lieberman, should investigate how much the services have been shortchanged these last five years, and contrast that with the billions that have been thrown towards private defense contractors by the GOP that accepts their campaign contributions.