Author`s name Alex Naumov

USA to spend up to 17 billion on war in Iraq and Afghanistan next year

The US authorities have said plenty words about the withdrawal of their troops from Iraq. However it seems that their words sharply contrast with their actions and the recently disclosed documents are a good evidence for this fact.

The annual cost of replacing, repairing, and upgrading equipment for the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to triple over the next year, to more than $17 billion, according to Army documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Over the past four years, replacing and maintaining equipment has cost the military about $4 billion a year. But the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a heavy toll on equipment. The documents show that these costs will shoot up to $12 billion starting in October (the start of the next federal budget), and will also include more than $5 billion in requests from previous years that had not been provided.

The latest costs include the transfer of more than 1,200 2 1/2-ton trucks, nearly 1,100 Humvees and $8.8 million in other equipment from the US Army to the Iraqi security forces. Army and Marine Corps leaders are expected to testify before Congress Tuesday and outline the growing costs of the war – with estimates that it will cost between $12 billion and $13 billion a year for equipment repairs, upgrades and replacements from now on.

The Marine Corps has said in recent testimony before Congress that it would need nearly $12 billion to replace and repair all the equipment worn out or lost to combat in the past four years. So far, the Marines have received $1.6 billion toward those costs to replace and repair the equipment.

Pentagon officials say all these additional costs will have to continue two years beyond whatever date the US leaves Iraq and Afghanistan in order to return the situation to normal.

All Headline News reports that costs related to both wars have climbed to half a trillion dollars since 2001. The US House of Representatives has passed a new military spending bill that includes $50 billion for the the military to continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as $60 billion for emergency measures in the two wars.

AP says one cause of growing costs is that military Humvees are wearing out more quickly than normal because they are carrying extra weight from armor designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs. AP also reported last week that the military is sending thousands of these battered Humvees and other worn-out military equipment back to the US "as more Iraqi units join the fight against insurgents and American units scheduled for Iraq duty have their orders canceled."

Four combat brigades, in Texas, Alaska and Colorado, were notified this week that they will deploy to Iraq late this year. The roughly 21,000 soldiers would replace troops heading home from Iraq, and do not signal a change.

But analysts say that removing so much equipment now suggests commanders are laying the groundwork for an extensive reduction. "It is much harder to move equipment than it is to move people," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. "So if the Army is increasing its movement of equipment out of the country, that may signal that it expects fewer soldiers in Iraq six or 12 months from now."

The Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington-based think tank, writes that despite equipment strains, the US has maintained a high level of readiness in Iraq. But "shortages are beginning to effect non-deployed units and units outside of Iraq." In a Center report written in April about the military's equipment needs, authors Lawrence J. Korb, Loren B. Thompson, and Caroline P. Wadhams wrote it was vital that the military be given the funds and support needed to replace and repair its equipment.

In order to sustain the current pace of military operations in Iraq without leaving the nation vulnerable to aggression in other places, the Department of Defense (DoD) must continuously repair, rebuild and replace equipment worn out or destroyed by the war effort, a process known as "reset." However, normal sustainment patterns have been threatened by the war in Iraq due to the high utilization rates and harsh conditions of the Iraqi environment. The Abrams tank, for example, is operating at six times its rate during peacetime, while medium and heavy trucks are operating at 10 times the typical peacetime rate. These equipment strains currently undermine the Army's ability to confront new challenges overseas or cope with disasters at home and threaten to impede operations in Iraq over the long term.

The Center's paper included a list of six short-term and five long-term recommendations to deal with the strain on the military's equipment.

Defense Industry Daily writes about keeping America's military as up-to-date as possible.

Technical innovation is present in all militaries, but America's combination of do-it-yourself types, large defense budgets, and a gadget-happy national character makes it particularly fertile ground. Now add a global war and its challenges, plus a defense sector with a strong small business component made up of ex-military types. The overall innovation transmission belt may not be as tight or as effective as Israel's or Singapore's, but the scale of the US defense establishment more than compensates in terms of the sheer number produced.

Last week the US Army recognized the "Top Ten Greatest Inventions of 2005." Some of the inventions honored included the Combat Application Tourniquet (a total of 145,000 tourniquets were purchased and fielded to personnel in the Central Command area of operation between April 2005 and July 2005) and Fido Explosives Detector, "a lightweight (less than three pounds) integrated explosives detection system based on a sensitive amplifying fluorescent polymers. Fido can be used by Warfighters in many modes, including handheld either through direct detection or as a tethered sensor, mounted on a robotic platform such as unmanned ground or aerial vehicles, or on underwater autonomous vehicles."

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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