On the heels of the report by the Center for American Progress that I posted on (Marine Corps Equipment & Dollars), we see this from North County Times:
The chairman of the House Armed Service Committee said Wednesday there has been no shortfall in money for Marine Corps combat-readiness and equipment needs as was suggested in new report from the liberal Washington think tank, the Center for American Progress.
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, said the Marine Corps and the Army are getting all the money the two service branches need and have asked for to repair and replace aging equipment and aircraft.
“We are funding every dime that the Marine Corps and Army have identified as being needed and we are adding more money than they have asked for,” Hunter said in a telephone interview before a press conference he conducted on the subject in San Diego.
The think tank’s report, released Wednesday, said the Marine Corps had lost 3,500 pieces of ground equipment and 27 helicopters in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.
The report said that providing the service with the ground and aviation equipment and restoring those elements to their pre-war level will cost $12 billion as well as an additional $5 billion for each year the U.S. remains in Iraq.
“Because Marine Corps equipment needs have been neglected in the past and the Iraq campaign has proved more protracted than anticipated, stresses are beginning to appear in the service’s capacity to supply its troops with the best war-fighting tools available,” said Larry Korb, co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the center, which bills itself as a nonpartisan research and educational institute.
The report says that war planners did not anticipate a lengthy stay in Iraq, nor the losses of equipment incurred in combat actions.
“Like the strain on its personnel, the Marines’ inventory of equipment exhibits increasing signs of wear and tear,” the report says. “This stress is already eroding the readiness of units outside Iraq and could eventually impede operations within Iraq.”
Hunter said that during classified and public hearings with Marine and Army officials before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, the services told lawmakers of their specific equipment needs.
Of the $11.7 billion the Marine Corps said in January that it needed, Congress responded a short time later by allocating $5.1 billion. The remainder of that money and some additional funds is in a 2007 defense appropriations bill now in negotiations between the House and Senate, with resolution expected soon, Hunter said.
In addition, Hunter said he and Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., have agreed to add $20 billion to an existing $50 billion “bridge” fund established two years ago for the services to draw from to meet immediate equipment needs, the congressman said.
“We have made sure that we won’t run short of the money for equipment that is needed in the war-fighting theater,” Hunter said, adding that funding bills are continually being adjusted as new needs arise.
Similar steps have been taken to assure that the Army has all the money it needs to maintain and replace equipment, Hunter said.
“While the priorities of our military are numerous and constantly changing to meet the challenges of the war on terror, we will continue responding without hesitation to the most immediate needs of the war fighter,” Hunter said.
In an interview with the North County Times on Monday, Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, the new commanding general at Camp Pendleton, said he is confident that Congress will appropriate the money needed for new armored personnel carriers, aircraft and other major components used to move and protect Marine forces.
“We have to keep pace because this is going to be a long fight,” Mattis said.
Psssst … listen a minute. Here’s how it works. The Marines are a little bit scared (well, scared might be the wrong work to use about a Marine). They are (rightfully) concerned that if you give them more money, then you might just go messin’ with their stuff, meddling in their affairs, and picking apart what they do and how they do it. After all, Washington has a history in these things, do they not?
Representative Hunter, if you and your colleagues will promise to be wise and circumspect about what you ask them about what they do and how and why they do it, and promise not to meddle too much in their affairs, the Marines would likely be a little more forthcoming to you about what their true needs are. Just don’t get too nosey. The Marines don’t like it, and for good reason.
I am sure that the brass could tell you stories until you were tired about their aircraft, troop transports, other aging equipment, and the need to increase salaries (go take a look at the pathetic salaries in the E1, E2 and E3 ranks). I will leave the heavy lifting to the brass. Let me mention one thing to you. Body armor.
I posted some time back on “Heavy Battlefield Weight,” in which I cited reports that showed that the heavy body armor weight not only decreased agility in combat, but was so heavy that some Marines were actually opting to leave it behind when they went into combat in Iraq.
I also posted on “Thermobaric Weapons and Body Armor,” in which it was shown that more research is needed to design lightweight, state-of-the-art body armor that is effective not only against ballistics, but air-fuel weapons as well.
If the brass didn’t tell you these things, then they weren’t being completely forthcoming.
So I told you.
There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?