Army Cash Crunch

WSJ’s Greg Jaffe [$] reports on the small ways the war in Iraq is causing the Army’s equipment costs to skyrocket:

Of the $1.9 trillion the U.S. spent on weaponry in that period, adjusted for inflation, the Air Force received 36% and the Navy got 33%. The Army took in 16%, it says. Despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both dominated by ground forces, the ratio hasn’t changed significantly.

[…]

It may seem hard to believe that a country which allocated $168 billion to the Army this year — more than twice the 2000 budget — can’t cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the two pillars of the Army, personnel and equipment — both built to wage high-tech, firepower-intensive wars — are under enormous stress:

The cost of basic equipment that soldiers carry into battle — helmets, rifles, body armor — has more than tripled to $25,000 from $7,000 in 1999.

The cost of a Humvee, with all the added armor, guns, electronic jammers and satellite-navigational systems, has grown seven-fold to about $225,000 a vehicle from $32,000 in 2001.

[…]

The Humvee stands as a metaphor for the problems the Army faces. First fielded in the early 1980s, it was designed to ferry soldiers around behind the front lines of a conventional war. In recent years, the vehicle, which troops drive on the streets of Iraq, has been modified countless times. The Army has bolted layers of armor onto it to protect troops from roadside bombs. It has added sophisticated electronic jammers, rotating turrets, bigger machine guns, satellite navigational systems and better radios.

The result is a Humvee that is much better than the version the Army took to Iraq in 2003. But the add-ons have driven up its cost. The modified vehicle is top heavy and tends to tip over at high speeds. Army officials say they can’t add more weight without overwhelming the engine or breaking the axle.

“The Army recognizes that the Humvee has reached a limit of our ability to improve it for the current fight,” Gen. Speakes says.

What the Army says it really needs is an all-new vehicle, designed to better withstand roadside bombs that have become part of life in Iraq. But such a vehicle likely won’t be ready until 2010 or 2012, Army officials say. In the interim, the Army wants to buy something on the commercial market — South Africa, Turkey and Australia all make alternatives. Yet it’s not clear whether the Army, which is struggling to equip the current force, has the money.

The Humvee was designed and fielded as a replacement for the venerable Jeep, as a personal transport vehicle for use in much the same way that civilians use cars and pickup trucks. It was never designed to be an armored personnel carrier. (Ironically, it was too wide and unwieldy for it intended use, too, especially on the narrow streets of Germany.)

That we did not fully anticipate the nature of ground combat in this war and have had to react on the fly in changing the way we equip soldiers is regrettable but understandable. The we’re continuing to spend more than two-thirds of our equipment budget on the Navy and Air Force, which are on the periphery of the war, while the Army and Marines go begging despite bearing the brunt of the casualties, is inexcusable.

via Defense Tech

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. madmatt says:

    The cost of basic equipment that soldiers carry into battle — helmets, rifles, body armor — has more than tripled to $25,000 from $7,000 in 1999.

    Well lets see, body armor as anybody who has bought it for a trooper can tell you runs about $800 dollars…the rest of the uniform hasn’t changed so how did prices triple in 7 years…itis the $600 hammer of the bush administration and their war profiteer buddies…this is why they don’t go into oversight!

    And as a Detroiter…the hummer always sucked!

  2. legion says:

    What the Army says it really needs is an all-new vehicle, designed to better withstand roadside bombs that have become part of life in Iraq.

    Ummm… isn’t that what the Bradley was supposed to be? Infantry transport in a high-threat environment?

  3. James Joyner says:

    legion:

    The Bradley is designed to get a squad from point A to point B, but only the TC and gunner have observation. I presume that the Army is looking for something in between a HMMVW and a Bradley for MOUT/stability ops/COIN missions.

  4. Fersboo says:

    JJ, both the M-2 Bradley CFV and M-3 Bradley IFV have observation from all areas of the vehicle. Granted that the obersvation can be limited. Additionally, the M-3 has weapon ports for the ability of the squads to fire crew served weapons.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Fersboo:

    Okay, thanks. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a Bradley (maybe 1988?). Not sure what the rationale is, then, for a tweener vehicle. Maybe a weight issue?

  6. Fersboo says:

    Weight and range. I believe the Stryker was supposed to be the ‘tween vehicle but I haven’t followed it much since the early 90’s after I ETS’d.

  7. LJD says:

    we’re continuing to spend more than two-thirds of our equipment budget on the Navy and Air Force

    It could just be that precision munitions, high tech parts, etc. simply cost more to field and maintain than trucks and infantry equipment.

    As for the Hummer/Bradley/Stryker dilemma, there is no vehicle to 100% protect the troops inside. It seems with the help of those we’re supposed to be negotiating with now, the insurgents have been able to slice through the the Abrams- previously thought to be impervious to such attacks.

    I think a change of mission will contribute more to the safety of the troops. The best defense is a good offense.

  8. Fersboo says:

    I think a change of mission will contribute more to the safety of the troops. The best defense is a good offense.

    Not with this current or upcoming group on pansies that reside in DC. I’d like to see clones of Sherman, Bradley, Patton and Ike created and let those on the world.

  9. Jim Harrison says:

    The division of spending between air force/navy and ground troops reflects earlier strategic thinking that did not envisage “optional” wars like Iraq–had the planners known we were going to shoot ourselves in the foot, they would have armored the top of the boot.

    If we’re going to get ourselves into useless conflicts, we certainly need to expand the army and marines and, in any case, we will have to spend now just to restore the wastage of the last few years. Looking forward, the best way to deal with the problem is to pursue a rational foreign policy.

  10. James Joyner says:

    Jim: Not sure what the “optional” nature of Iraq has to do with the logistics. If it had been a security threat up to par with your standards, it would still have been the same war.

    The bottom line is that the US Military is not equipped and organized properly for COIN/stability ops.

  11. LJD says:

    OK Jim, please explain why Clinton put us into Bosnia and Kosovo, where we still have troops, while cutting the ‘Army and Marines’?

    Not to be partisan, but many seem to pretend that this is something unique to the Bush admiinistration.

  12. Wayne says:

    The Army doesn’t use over the counter body armor. The interceptor body armor runs around $1585 a set without the additional plates that cost around $500 a piece. Of course any upgrade design and material or the newer armor they are coming out with would cost more, especially when first fielded. GPS use to cost a great deal more then it does now with much less features.
    Military specs and testing also increase the cost. Often in my opinion, they spend too much for this purpose. Example is the hammer.

  13. Wayne says:

    Also we have a problem with politicians and MSM thinking they know what the troops need more than the troops does. We spend a great deal of money in one area that would get “better” results if spent somewhere else.

  14. Jim Harrison says:

    It’s news to me that I signed up to defend Clinton’s policies, though to be fair to him, his administration, like that of the first Bush, was able to get other countries to make a signficant contribution of troops to various operations and Clinton’s intervention in Yugoslovia differed from Bush’s intervention in Iraq in that the former was a success and the later a disaster.

    A power like America will always get more bang for the buck from air force/navy power than from boots-on-the-ground power. We really aren’t in a position to compete very effectively in situations where technology means less than limitless cannon-fodder motivated by sincere ideological commitment. That doesn’t mean we can or should ignore ground forces, but it does suggest that we should take are real strengths and weaknesses into account in our foreign policy planning. If we’re going to invade places, we should be sure that they really are pushovers since we obviously don’t have what it takes to confront a serious opponent like China or Russia with military force. For structural reasons, we are defensively extremely strong, but offensively quite weak and should plan accordingly.

  15. legion says:

    Jim: Not sure what the “optional” nature of Iraq has to do with the logistics. If it had been a security threat up to par with your standards, it would still have been the same war.

    True, but it would have (should have) been approached differently. Too many people bought into the hype that this would be another 100-hour cakewalk, and that afterwards everyone would go home, the Iraqis would throw flowers under our feet as we marched by, and the magically-undamaged oil infrastructure would pay for the whole show. A few people saw that as pure fantasy, but not enough stop today’s ongoing train wreck…

    The bottom line is that the US Military is not equipped and organized properly for COIN/stability ops.

    While true, it’s not the entire problem. Yugoslavia has been a reasonably successful mission in that realm; Afghanistan almost was, but then we abandoned an undermanned NATO mission & the country is falling back into the hands of the Taliban we never finished off; Iraq has yet to even get that far. The problem is that Iraq is a COIN/stability op inside an unsecured, free-fire combat zone. Without some basis of security, stability missions will _never_ work.

  16. Wayne says:

    Jim
    The conflict in Yugoslavia is still going on
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2006/09/mil-060922-unnews05.htm

    The big difference is the MSM isn’t covering every little negative. If they did it would even be worst. Yugoslavia is a tiny war in size compare to Iraq. I guess you support going to war with only tiny military and nations.

    “A power like America will always get more bang for the buck from air force/navy power than from boots-on-the-ground power”. Please! If that is true lets let the Air force/Navy take over operations in Iraq. Each branch is design for different jobs. Used together that can act as multipliers.

    Which branch should get more money depends on what job you want done. Of course one should keep future operations in mind. The Army has always been short change with equipment although not as bad as the Marines. A jet looks more impressive then body armor. It takes decades of budgeting or vast spending increases to supply an Army properly. Now the politicians are trying to cover their Asses for not doing their jobs and blaming an Executive branch who at the most will have a max of 8 years in office.

    I like to see some links of anyone who thought the aftermath was going to be a cakewalk. It sure wasn’t the military or the President.

  17. Jim Harrison says:

    However much they fretted about the difficulty of overthrowing Saddam, Bush et. al. certainly acted as if the invasion was going to be the hard part– what else explains the remarkable lack of planning and preparation for a long, hard haul? Of course when people start to believe their own propaganda, it sets up a dangerous feedback loop. Thus Bush apparently forgot (or was never told) that the famous scene of toppling Saddam’s statue was essentially a fraudulent photo op. The guy who landed on the aircraft carrier surely gave the impression of somebody who thought the mission had been accomplished.

    Well, I envy those who have the job of defending Bush. It’s so much more of a challenge to maintain an absurd position than to simply acknowledge obvious facts.

  18. legion says:

    I like to see some links of anyone who thought the aftermath was going to be a cakewalk. It sure wasn’t the military or the President.

    Well, let’s see…
    Paul Wolfowitz declared that we would be greeted as “liberators” by the Iraqis, that needing more than about 100,000 troops to keep the peace in Iraq was “wildly off the mark”, and that the entire affair would cost the US nex to nothing, being paid for by the Iraqi oil trade. He was the #2 guy at DoD when he said those things, and I think we can all agree there aren’t enough ‘o’s in wrooooooong to describe what an incompetent feeb he is.

    Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board & chief drum-beater of the “Saddam ran 9-11” crowd said “And a year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they’ve been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation.” in 2003. Still waiting for that square.

    Elliot Abrams, NSC lead on the Middle East, said “We recognize that military action in Iraq, if necessary, will have adverse humanitarian consequences. We have been planning over the last several months, across all relevant agencies, to limit any such consequences and provide relief quickly.” in 2003. Either his concept of “planning” is sadly unconnected to reality, or he’s just a dirty liar; you choose.

    Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, declared quite authoritatively that the total cost of invading Iraq would be $1.7 billion, and that there were no plans for funding it any higher than that.

    Yeah, none of those guys are Bush or a general, but they’re the ones who made what half-assed plans there were, and they’re the ones who sold it to a gullible Congress and public.

  19. I’ve linked to you here.

  20. Wayne says:

    Legion

    How about some links so we can see the statements in context.

    Here are links to Bush talking about it being tough and that it would be a challenge if we would be to go to war with Iraq and there are many more from Rumsfeild.

    http://usinfo.state.gov/mena/Archive/2005/Jun/28-139377.html

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html