The Third Battlefront: Money
Wars and modernization force a stressed Army to fight for $25 billion more
But few disagree that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking their toll and bills are coming due. Brig. Gen. Robert Radin, deputy chief of staff for operations at the Army Materiel Command in Fort Belvoir, Va., says depots across the country will see double the number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and radars sent back stateside for repair in 2007. Without more resources, says former Army Chief of Staff Gordon Sullivan, president of the Association of the United States Army, "The U.S. Army and Marine Corps will consume themselves, both in equipment and manpower."
In past years, these repair costs, known as reset, have been covered in supplemental appropriations, makeup funding that tends to receive less scrutiny from lawmakers. But last week Congress demanded more oversight, unanimously passing an amendment proposed by Sen. John McCain that requires ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq operations to be funded in the main budget. President Bush promptly attached a presidential signing statement to the defense bill, leaving open the possibility of more supplemental funding for a military fighting two wars with no end in sight.