10 years ago
The Center for American Progress has this study in “Marine Corps Equipment After Iraq:”
The United States has understandably focused on the tremendous human costs of the war in Iraq, yet there are other costs that must be addressed as well. Earlier this year the Center for American Progress and the Lexington Institute compiled a report examining the impact of the war in Iraq on Army equipment. This report does the same for the Marine Corps, the other service that has borne the brunt of the occupation.
Over the past three years the Marine Corps has maintained 40 percent of its ground equipment, 50 percent of its communications equipment, and 20 percent of its aviation assets in Iraq. This equipment is used at as much as nine times its planned rate, abused by a harsh environment, and depleted due to losses in combat. To maintain acceptable readiness levels, the Marines have been taking equipment from non-deployed units and drawing down Maritime Prepositioned stocks, including equipment stored in Europe, thus limiting their ability to respond to contingencies outside of Iraq.
Resetting and recovering the force will be expensive. The cost of restoring the Marines’ ground and aviation equipment to its pre-Iraq level, as of the summer of 2006, will require $12 billion plus an additional $5 billion for each year the Marines remain in Iraq.
Recovery will also not be easy. The Marine Corps, like the Army, must incorporate the lessons of Iraq into its future procurement plans while upgrading its forces. The Marines may prefer expeditionary operations to acting as an occupying force, but urban counter-insurgency and peacekeeping operations will more likely be the rule rather than the exception in the future.
Read all of the report at the link I supplied above, including near term and long term recommendations. I have a few observations of my own to make.
First observation: I believe that we should more radically re-evaluate our deployments around the globe than even Rumsfeld has advocated. Our NATO presence should be reduced, our bases in Germany should be cut or closed altogether, and our forces moved to the locales in the world where they need to be in order to engage in this 25-year war on radical Islamic facism that we are just now beginning. Look folks: the cold war is over, and we need to deal with it immediately and radically, not as if we are slow and stolid and dense. So it doesn’t bother me too much that we are depleting the equipment that would otherwise be used in Europe, for example. But I seriously doubt that this comprises a large portion of the deployed equipment or Marines, so this might be a moot point. Either way, Europe is the last thing that should be on our minds right now.
Second, as you might be able to tell from my posts, there are things that I wish I could tell you about Marine training and indoctrination, but cannot because it would get my son into trouble. They are very clear that the men are not supposed to speak to those outside the “family” of Marines about what they experience. I have suggested two books in my earlier post: “Making the Corps” and “Into the Crucible.” I would also suggest a movie: Full Metal Jacket, a sort of cult classic (my son Daniel recommends it). Note: Get the movie and watch it, but don’t believe everything you read in the Wikipedia link I gave you just now. Full Metal Jacket begins to tell you what boot camp is like, but still doesn’t do the job. It just doesn’t.
I have given you hints with the 20 mile humps with 40 lbm of body armor and 100 lbm backpacks, trying to sleep with artillery shooting, pulling leeches off of each other after waking, going two or more days without eating or sleeping, etc., etc. But these are still just hints. How the Marines make emotionally, physically and mentally hard men is a story that has not really been told yet, and will not be told by me. The secrets of Parris Island are haunting and will remain with the boys who have been there. As one who has only heard these stories, I cannot tell them with honesty. I think its one of those things where you had to be there.
Where am I going with this? Just this. American wants the Marines. American needs the Marines. Just trust me on this. So the thought of a funding cut (or even failure to grant a funding increase) is just not on the radar screen. Note to Congress: Grant the Corps what they request. They will request less than they actually need. That’s the way they are.
Third: The saying goes “The Marines go in first, the Army gets all the equipment and gets to clean up.” I know, I know, the Marines relish austere conditions, hardship, going without, and having less than you need. And I know, one reason for this is the feeling that if you actually get funded, you might have to compromise your standards and become like … well, someone or something else. You need to get past this … sort of.
Listen. You are the President’s own, you do battle when he says so, and sometimes without the approval of much of the American people or Congress, into strange lands and without clear mandates or charges. You are accustomed to murky goals and hard conditions, and you have to train your people that way. But … you need to play the politics of funding in order to get the equipment you need to do the job, right up to the point of compromising and becoming politically correct.
This you will not do. I know. But more funding is the order of the day. You deserve a larger portion of the pie, and unless you are willing to step forward and say so, you will continue to go without, to the detriment of your boys and your mission.