AM General responded by increasing production of "up-armored" Humvees (as opposed to "thin skin" Humvees) from 150 to 450 a month.
By this fall, the Army had put 5,000 in Iraq, only to learn a few weeks ago that commanders had upped the need to 8,000.
"I'm not sure anybody in the Army ever thought we would start armoring our truck fleet," Mr. Brownlee said. "But that's what we're doing."
There is no front line when battling an insurgency. Or the front line is everywhere.
Army officials say they are improving their ability to stock parts and equipment, have boosted the readiness rates of tanks and helicopters, and have shortened waits for new supplies. Yet, in some categories, they still fall short of their own goals.
The share of items Army supply depots list as "zero balance" -- or absent from supply shelves -- has dropped from between 25 percent and 40 percent last year, depending on the depot, to an average of 14 percent this year, just above the peacetime goal of 10 percent.
Across the country, the brutal conditions can be seen on the Humvees on patrol with smashed or cracked front windshields or punctured doors and fenders where chunks of shrapnel have blown through. Worse, dozens of vehicles have been lost in attacks. Video clips of burning Humvees have become a staple of Iraqi insurgent propaganda DVDs.
In the western town of Qaim, a U.S. Marine complained that his unit lacked vehicles and protection as well as troops to replace those killed and destroyed by roadside bombings, ambushes and anti-tank mine blasts.
"We need more vehicles, more armor, more bodies," said Cpl. Cody King, 20, of Phoenix, Ariz., of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
Curiously, those reservists in Iraq who refused to go on a resupply mission because their equipment was in such poor shape are going to have safer equipment as a result of their insubordination.
On Sunday, the commanding officer of the 13th Corps Support Command, Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, ordered the South Carolina Reserve unit that refused the supply run to undergo a two-week "safety-maintenance stand down," during which it will conduct no missions as its vehicles are refurbished and armored.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The current American defense budget provides a provision for reimbursing troops (mainly soldiers and marines) who buy needed military equipment with their own money. Up to $1,100 a year per soldier will be provided, if they can make a case that their expenditure was needed for “protective, safety, or health equipment.”
The US military doesn't have enough soldiers to properly occupy Iraq and it doesn't even have enough armor and other supplies to equip the soldiers who are currently fighting over there.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 November 17 01:39 PM MidEast Iraq Military Needs|