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The Toll of War

Equipment reset must play a role in the normal budget process to ensure efficiency and high readiness.

The Senate continues consideration of the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations bill today. Discussion will continue through today and tomorrow, with a vote expected later this week. The Appropriations bill passed through the House on June 20 with a vote of 407 to 19.

In April, the Center for American Progress released a report detailing short-term and long-term steps for the federal government to take in order to ensure the Army a full recovery from operations in Iraq. Last month, the Center for American Progress released a similar report for the United States Marine Corps.

These reports demonstrate that operations in Iraq exact a heavy toll on military equipment. Army and Marine equipment is being used at as much as nine times its planned rate, abused by a harsh environment, and depleted due to losses in combat. In order for the military to retain a high level of readiness, Congress should use the appropriations process to adequately cover the necessary procurement and depot maintenance items contained in the fiscal year 2007 Department of Defense budget.

Congress should fund the reset program through the normal budget process and not through supplemental budgets, as has been the case since the beginning of operations in Iraq. The Congressional Research Service aptly notes that the requests in the supplemental budget may overlap with the baseline budget since both involve the procurement of new equipment. Furthermore, “since war funding is not subject to budget resolution constraints, it is in the interest of both the DOD and defense advocates in Congress to maximize the costs covered in war appropriations.” Circumventing the regular budget process makes “it difficult for Congress to gauge whether the amounts requested by DOD are too high, too low, or about right.”

Read the full reports:

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