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The chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps will meet with the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow to testify about their strategies to repair and replace military equipment lost or damaged during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military has sustained a high level of readiness in Iraq despite equipment strains, but shortages are beginning to effect non-deployed units and units outside of Iraq.

It may be the duty of the men and women in the military to serve and protect the Unites States’ interests, but it is the duty of the government to ensure that every individual has the best protection available. Without dependable equipment, the United States can not ensure the safety of its military personnel or reliably carry out its military goals.

In April, Lawrence J. Korb, Loren B. Thompson, and Caroline P. Wadhams of the Center for American Progress released a report detailing the following six short-term and five long-term steps that the United States government can take to ensure that the military will fully recover from operations in Iraq and adequately face future challenges:

Short-term Recommendations

  • Congress should fully fund the service’s $9 billion request for reset funding in fiscal 2006 and maintain funding until military presence in Iraq significantly decreases.
  • Congress should provide additional resources to cover most of the procurement and depot maintenance items contained in the Army’s $7 billion unfunded requirements list for fiscal 2007.
  • Once the deployed force departs Iraq, Congress should continue funding reset for at least two years to assure full resolution of all war-related equipment problems.
  • The Army should cease deferring recapitalization of aging equipment and request a level of reset funding consistent with fully revitalizing the force for future challenges.
  • The Department of Defense should conduct and submit to Congress a comprehensive review of new equipment that will be required for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve to recover fully from Iraq deployments and enable the reserve component to meet future commitments.
  • The U.S. Army should fund its reset program through the normal budget process and not through supplementals, as has been the case since the beginning of operations in Iraq.

Long-term Recommendations

  • The Army should continue efforts to reorganize its warfighting capabilities around modular, networked brigade combat teams.
  • The Army should accelerate the fielding of new situational awareness and communications systems, including the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical that will provide a foundation for the overarching Future Combat System, the Blue Force Tracker and brigade-level unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • The Army should produce and fund a comprehensive plan for the continuous enhancement of heavy armored vehicles, such as the Abrams main battle tank and Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.
  • The Army should complete replacement of its Cold War truck fleet while beginning development of a successor to the versatile High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee).
  • The Army should work hard to keep all elements of its aviation modernization program on track, recognizing that timely fielding of new or improved attack, utility, cargo and reconnaissance helicopters are critical to future conventional and counter-insurgency operations.

We urge the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow to remember the stress that combat in Iraq places on military equipment and consider these recommendations for ensuring the safety of military personnel and America’s military objectives.

Read the full report:

For more information on the Center’s stance on this issue, read:

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