Red Tape Hampers Fielding Iraqi Force

Army Officer Criticizes U.S. Delays in Security Equipment for Iraqi Forces

A top U.S. field commander in Iraq vented his frustration yesterday at the Pentagon red tape that has kept Iraqi security forces from getting the gear they need to fight.

“If we had the equipment for these brave young men, we would be much farther along” in defeating the insurgents, said Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.

“We are still short a significant amount of vehicles, radios and body armor to properly equip them,” said Swannack, whose 18,000 paratroopers will be replaced in the coming weeks.

Phil Carter responds,

Actually, I don’t think it’s the private contractors that are the problem here. I think it’s the red tape in the procurement process that’s causing these delays. Of course, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and its DoD companion were invented to create delay — it’s the red tape that helps maintain accountability and control over taxpayer money. But in an operational situation such as this, that delay can mean opportunities and lives lost. A lot of smart people have pointed to situations like this and said that the procurement system needs more streamlining; more fast-track authority. Indeed, it already has the limited ability to buy commercial off-the-shelf items on an accelerated timeline — but not the ability to buy large purchases of wartime materiel for missions like this one. The DoD procurement system needs this ability, and it needs the flexibility to be able to react to unforeseeable needs in the future. Oversight and accountability are a good thing, but too much can be detrimental to mission accomplishment.

Sounds about right.

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.