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Article yesterday in the WSJ, need a subscription to get to it, but it is found on another site... Interesting the cost of war, and how we send our young men and women into battle without getting used to the equipment they need to defend themselves. The price of a Humvee has gone from 32K in 2001 to 225K today, the cost of arming a soldier going to war has gone from 7K to 25K. Have to wonder if the companies that are being contracted are artificially inflating some of these prices as if we had to pay 7 fold for a vehicle, as in the humvee, would the free market allow this to happen??
The author, Greg Jaffe, is considered pretty reputable amongst the Pentagon Reporters, if what he says is credible... these troops being sent there are not prepared, armed correctly and the whole effort is being shortchanged. Is Rumsfield to blame??
FORT STEWART, Ga. -- With just six weeks before they leave for Iraq, the 3,500 soldiers from the Third Infantry Division's First Brigade should be learning about Ramadi, the insurgent stronghold where they will spend a year.
Many of the troops don't even know the basic ethnic makeup of the largely Sunni city. "We haven't spent as much time as I would like on learning the local culture, language, and politics -- all the stuff that takes a while to really get good at," says Lt. Col. Clifford Wheeler, who commands one of the brigade's 800-soldier units.
Instead, the troops are learning to use equipment that commanders say they should ideally have been training with since the spring. Many soldiers only recently received their new M-4 rifles and rifle sights, which are in short supply because of an Army-wide cash crunch. Some still lack their machine guns or long-range surveillance systems, which are used to spot insurgents laying down roadside bombs. They've been told they'll pick up most of that when they get to Iraq....
The other big strain on the Army is a shortage of people. The Army has made much of the fact that it met its recruiting goals for 2006, bringing in 80,000 soldiers. But meeting those goals has come at a heavy cost. The Army spent about $735 million on retention bonuses in 2006 to keep battle-weary troops in the service, up from about $85 million in 2003. And it had to pay about $300 million more on recruiting this year compared to the year before.
The extra cash didn't stop the Army from having to lower standards. Although the quality of the force is still considered good, 8,500 recruits in 2006 required "moral waivers" for criminal misconduct or past drug use -- more than triple the 2,260 waivers the Army issued 10 years ago. The Army also took in more troops who scored in the bottom third on its aptitude test.
As it has brought in more borderline recruits, the Army has found itself short of officers and sergeants. Today, it is down about 3,000 active-duty officers, a deficiency that it says will grow to about 3,700 in 2008. It is short more than 7,500 reserve and National Guard officers, according to internal Army documents.
“We like to say that dependability is more important than ability,” Bill Belichickism....
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