Iraq: More Troops, Money

NYT: Pentagon Drafts Iraq Troop Plan to Meet Violence [RSS]

The Pentagon has drawn up plans to send fresh troops quickly to Iraq in case it decides it must keep 135,000 or more American soldiers deployed beyond July, senior officials said Tuesday.

The Pentagon’s contingency plans for summer, fall and beyond were driven partly by the lack of new foreign troops and the unexpected difficulties of training Iraqi forces. President Bush and his political aides had hoped to be drawing down American forces before the November elections, which now seems far less likely.

While American commanders in Iraq have not asked for more troops, the Pentagon’s detailed planning, disclosed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior military and civilian aides, is the strongest indication that the recent decision to delay for 90 days the return of 20,000 troops at a time of intense fighting might not be the temporary measure officials had described.

WaPo: War May Require More Money Soon

Intense combat in Iraq is chewing up military hardware and consuming money at an unexpectedly rapid rate — depleting military coffers, straining defense contractors and putting pressure on Bush administration officials to seek a major boost in war funding long before they had hoped.

Since Congress approved an $87 billion defense request last year, the administration has steadfastly maintained that military forces in Iraq will be sufficiently funded until early next year. President Bush’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 included no money for Iraqi operations, and his budget director, Joshua B. Bolten, said no request would come until January at the earliest.

But military officials, defense contractors and members of Congress say that worsening U.S. fortunes in Iraq have dramatically changed the equation and more money will be needed soon. This comes as lawmakers, returning from their spring break, voice unease about the mounting violence and what they say is the lack of a clearly enunciated strategy for victory.

The military already has identified unmet funding needs, including initiatives aimed at providing equipment and weapons for troops in Iraq. The Army has publicly identified nearly $6 billion in funding requests that did not make Bush’s $402 billion defense budget for 2005, including $132 million for bolt-on vehicle armor; $879 million for combat helmets, silk-weight underwear, boots and other clothing; $21.5 million for M249 squad automatic weapons; and $27 million for ammunition magazines, night sights and ammo packs. Also unfunded: $956 million for repairing desert-damaged equipment and $102 million to replace equipment lost in combat.

The Marine Corps’ unfunded budget requests include $40 million for body armor, lightweight helmets and other equipment for “Marines engaged in the global war on terrorism,” Marine Corps documents state. The Marines are also seeking 1,800 squad automatic weapons and 5,400 M4 carbine rifles.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, charged that the president is playing political games by postponing further funding requests until after the election, to try to avoid reopening debate on the war’s cost and future.

Weldon described the administration’s current defense budget request as “outrageous” and “immoral” and said that at least $10 billion is needed for Iraqi operations over the next five months.

If changing events on the ground require more money, then they do. It is, however, an old bureaucratic trick to spend allocated funds on nice-to-have items and then come crying because you don’t have the money to buy must-have items. I understand the body armor issue, as this is a relatively new technology that radically improves upon the old vests. I’m a bit puzzled as to how the Marines could be short of helmets and generation-old small arms. Ammunition gets expended but I’ve never heard of a rifle “wearing out.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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. Jammer says:

    Rifles can wear out, especially in combat. Remember, we’re talking about stuff being heavily used in a less than optimum environment, under less than optimum conditions for maintenance. And who knows how old the weapons in question were before they got sent to Iraq.

    And um, where does it say the weapons wore out? Maybe they have been lost or broken in combat.