After finally providing short-term relief for chronic payroll and personnel problems caused by the strain of Iraq, Congress today turns to the issue of troop protection. The House Armed Services Committee will address troop protective equipment in a hearing today. As it does so, we urge them to remember the stress that Iraq places on military equipment and the implications that has for U.S. military performance. Congress must ensure that our men and women in uniform have better protection on the battlefield.

The Army has sustained a high level of readiness in Iraq despite equipment strains, but readiness for non-deployed units and units outside Iraq has already been reduced. Lack of proper equipment places the soldiers themselves at great risk and also endangers the long-term military goals in Iraq.

In order to protect American troops and assure Army equipment readiness, Congress should fully fund the military’s $9 billion request to replace and repair equipment destroyed and worn out by the war effort. And Congress should continue to fund equipment repair and replacement for at least two years after a force is deployed to ensure full resolution of all war-related equipment problems. The Department of Defense should also 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.

In April, Lawrence J. Korb, Loren B. Thompson, and Caroline P. Wadhams of the Center for American Progress released a report detailing their recommendations for Army equipment after Iraq. We urge Congress today to keep these recommendations in mind and work towards keeping our troops in Iraq and around the world fully protected.

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