U.S. Military Suffers Equipment and Base Shortfalls

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For the last quarter of 2006 United States Army bases stateside face a funding deficit of $530 million while troops active in Iraq and Afghanistan will not see the promised replacement levels of military equipment previously committed. Additionally, payroll for active-duty troops is short $1.4 billion while the Army Reserve and National Guard face a $500 million deficiency.

The Installation Management Agency is responsible for overseeing the funding for 117 Army posts in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Garrisons of the posts administer the services the post receives such as mail delivery, garbage removal and firefighting while contracting services for dining halls and grounds maintenance. In order for many services to be provided, both temporary and term personnel are sub-contracted by the garrisons. However, in early June 2006, Installation Commander, Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy, mandated major cuts in services on all Army bases at least until September 30, 2006, when the 2006 fiscal year ends.


The reduction in services includes a 100% civilian hiring freeze; the release of temporary and term employees as quickly as possible unless vital for the support of life, health, safety and the Global War On Terrorism; development of spending plans by commanders for Fiscal Year 2007 based upon such reduced services; cancelling or reducing contracts until October 1, 2006. Garrisons have also reduced vehicle usage by as much as 20%, and cut cell phone and paging services.

However, other costs simply cannot be deferred or eliminated such as electric bills. Fort Hood in Houston, TX has not paid its monthly $1.4 million electric bill since March 2006, with many of its administrative buildings receiving disconnect notices. Fort Bragg in North Carolina has a moratorium on buying pens, paper and other office supplies and equipment. Fort Knox, Kentucky closed one of its eight dining halls. Other bases shut down swimming pool facilities, due to chlorine costs, used for training and exercise by troops and their families. Even pest control has been considered a non-essential expenditure at some posts.

President Bush signed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terrorism and Hurricane Recovery 2006 on June 15, 2006, in the amount of $94.5 billion for such emergency spending. Although it provides the Department of Defense with $66 billion, most of it is allocated for military expenditures for the ongoing costs of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Out of the defense funding in the supplemental act, $43.5 billion is for military operations, with $17.6 billion designated for replacing worn out equipment on the battlefield including night-vision equipment, vehicle armor, mortar and rocket jamming devices and other counter insurgency measures. Heavy trucks and Humvee replacements are to be factored in as well. $4.9 billion is for the training and equipping of Iraq and Afghanistan security forces, $1.6 billion is for strengthening the Iraq and Afghanistan economies, $66 million is for promoting democracy in Iran and $393 million is for peacekeeping efforts and humanitarian aid in South Sudan and Darfur.

Also included in the authorized supplemental spending is $19.8 billion in aid for the U.S. Gulf Coast rebuilding effort, $2.3 billion goes to anti-avian flu programs and $1.9 billion is for border security including sending 2,500 National Guard troops to the southern border by August 1, 2006. But what was not clear when $1.9 billion was allocated for border security was that $1.6 billion of it was taken from funds specifically reserved for military equipment replacement.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requested the change upon such directive from the White House but without consulting the Army or the Marine Corps. In a last minute amendment sponsored by Senator Bill Frist (R) TN and Senator Judd Gregg (R) NH, $1.9 billion was transferred from the emergency war supplement to the Department of Homeland Security. However, not realized by most in Congress is that the $1.9 billion is to be reimbursed by the Pentagon