Funding shortfalls jeopardize Army operations, chief says

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker told congressional staffers last week he is worried that the Army cannot repair vital equipment fast enough because supplemental budget requests have been too little, too late.

During the last several years the military services have relied on supplemental appropriations to cover the costs of waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But perpetual uncertainties over such funding, which is not part of the regular budget cycle, have been especially hard on the Army since it has borne a disproportionate share of the burden in those wars.

The service has a backlog of thousands of pieces of equipment awaiting repair because there is not enough money to pay for the repairs more quickly, Schoomaker said. None of the Army's five major depots, where damaged and worn out equipment is refurbished, is operating above 50 percent capacity, he said. Schoomaker spoke at a Friday luncheon primarily attended by Capitol Hill staff members and sponsored by the Defense Forum Foundation, an organization that puts on bipartisan educational briefings related to national security.

At the Red River Army Depot in Texas, for example, nearly 1,500 humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and trucks await repairs; another 500 M1 tanks and hundreds of other tracked vehicles are in the backlog at Anniston Army Depot in northeastern Alabama.

The delays in repairs have had a cascading effect on the Army, Schoomaker said. Because many units rotating out of Iraq are leaving undamaged equipment there for the use of units replacing them on the battlefield, they are returning home with little equipment to use in training exercises. By the time the equipment is repaired or replaced, those soldiers have lost precious time in which to prepare for their next deployment.

The Army entered the Iraq war with what service leaders estimated was a $56 billion budget shortfall. In order to field the force that took Baghdad, Army leaders had to move troops and equipment from various units to cover the shortfalls. The ongoing rotations of troops in and out of Iraq, along with increased wear and tear of equipment has created what Schoomaker called "a slope of diminishing returns."

The Army estimates it will need $17.1 billion for equipment replacement and repairs in 2007, a figure that includes nearly $5 billion not covered in this year's budget.

"I've got great concerns about where we stand right now with the 2007 [budget]," Schoomaker said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.