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Don’t lose the forest for the trees.
Congress is now considering President Bush’s request for an additional $145 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30, 2008. The House Armed Services Committee is including these funds in the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2008, which runs from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008. Of this, $142 billion will be for the military and $3 billion will be for the State Department.
President Bush submitted this request on February 5, the same date on which he requested $93 billion for the wars for this year’s budget and $482 billion for the regular baseline military budget for FY 2008 (a 62% increase over the baseline military budget in 2001).
While political gamesmanship will continue over war funding for this fiscal year (which ends on September 30), the substantive debate on this year’s supplemental bill is all but over. Congress will most likely approve these funds, including "benchmark" requirements placed upon Iraq’s government. These "benchmarks" are meaningless in terms of ending U.S. military action in Iraq. Most likely, not even a "goal" date for withdrawal from Iraq will be included in the final supplemental bill for this year.
The antiwar movement must quickly shift its focus to the $145 billion supplemental spending request for FY 08. If the focus doesn’t shift, the war will end up being fully funded through September 30, 2008 and beyond.
But then: What is to be done?
Congress could, if it so chooses-and if there is sufficient public pressure–exercise "the power of the purse" and bring the Iraq war to an end. The time to act is short.
As noted, the 2008 war funds are already included in the Defense Authorization bill currently before Congress. Authorization bills set spending levels for the next fiscal year and guide the development of the appropriations bills. Once the Authorization bill is passed, the next stop is the Appropriations Committee, which crafts the legislation that actually appropriates the funds for expenditure.
In the last two years, Congress included Iraq and Afghanistan war funding in the same Defense Appropriations bill that contained funds for the baseline military budget. In 2005, Congress approved $50 billion as a "reserve" fund while in 2006 it approved $70 billion as a "bridge" fund. If Congress chooses to include the $142 billion supplemental war request and the regular baseline military budget in the same appropriations bill this year, the most likely time for Congress to act will be in June (in the House) and in July (in the Senate). Most likely, a final conference committee bill will be acted upon in September (Democrats most likely will want to position themselves as the party of "fiscal responsibility" by passing all appropriations before October 1, the start of the fiscal year).
Congress must use the leverage it has with the Defense Authorization and the Defense Appropriations bills to force an end to the Iraq war. Congress could attach provisions to the Defense Authorization bill and to the Defense Appropriations Bill requiring that all U.S. troops be withdrawn from Iraq by a specific date during FY 08 and prohibiting the expenditure of any funds for any form of continued military action in or against Iraq after that date. This "date certain" withdrawal could be December 31, 2007 (as proposed in legislation introduced by Representatives Waters, Woolsey and Lee). Or it could be March 31, 2008-implementing the policy objective put forth by Congress in the initial supplemental spending bill that President Bush vetoed. The only funds appropriated should be for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Iraq. Congress must then hold fast in February 2008, when Bush would most certainly seek additional war funds with yet another supplemental spending package.
If the above scenario is pursued, would Bush veto the entire military budget for Fiscal Year 2008? If he does, would Congress show political and ethical resolve, holding firm and resubmitting the baseline military budget and supplemental war budget in the same bill and with the same deadlines for a date-certain withdrawal from Iraq?
Our responsibility is to press the demand for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (and, indeed, the complete cessation of all military action against Iraq-e.g., after ground troops are withdrawn we cannot allow an air war to continue).
But it’s also our responsibility to engage the legislative process with concrete demands that have a basis in the reality of power politics in Washington, D.C. Simply saying "withdraw now", without any substantive legislative or political strategy, moves us to the land of the irrelevant-and, sadly, accepting a position of irrelevance ends up reinforcing the broad and lamentable complicity that we as U.S. citizens collectively bear for the blood-spilling in Iraq.
We must also have a solid grounding in the complexities of the supplemental war spending request for FY 2008. In particular, we should be prepared to refute the argument that a cut-off of funding will, "ipso facto", further endanger troops currently deployed in Iraq. It is not necessary to be able to cross every "t" and dot every "i", but the response should be grounded in an understanding of the war budget.
What follows is an effort to break down and analyze the various components of the military’s request for $142 billion in supplemental spending for FY 08. This analysis will focus upon the Army’s request for funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Arguments similar to those detailed in the analysis of the Army’s spending request apply to the spending requests submitted by the Air Force and the Navy and Marine Corps. This analysis is based upon the voluminous materials that the various Armed Services submitted in February 2007 to justify and detail their budgetary requests. This material is available on the website of the Comptroller of the Department of Defense. The data includes funding for both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The military services do not provide a break out by specific war.
AVERAGE TROOP STRENGTH IN FY 2008
The Fiscal Year 08 supplemental spending bill provides for full funding for current levels of troop strength through September 30, 2008. The slightly smaller number in FY 08 is likely due to a gradual end of the troop "surge" that was initiated this year.
Average Troop Strengths
Army FY 07 FY 08
Active Duty 123,000 119,000
Reserve 9,000 9,000
National Guard 24,000 24,000
Total 156,000 149,000
Marine FY 07 FY 08
Active Duty 23,280 23,280
Reserve 3,214 3,214
Total 26,494 26,494
Subsistence-in-Kind is a key indicator of the level of anticipated troop deployments during FY 08. The Army is budgeting for an average troop level of 159,580 troops in FY 08 compared to 170,771 in FY 07 (and 119,277 in FY 06). [FN-3]
Subsistence-in-Kind (SIK) is the provision of "(food and drink) to Soldiers while deployed in support of both OEF and OIF. SIK includes the cost of procuring subsistence for garrison dining facilities (Subsistence in Messes), operational rations, and augmentation rations. The Army provides subsistence in mess facilities and operational rations for members of all military services participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). [FN-4]
The anticipated average number of Army units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan is the final indicator that the U.S. plans to fully fund the wars through all of FY 08. The Army plans to maintain an average of 14 Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) in Iraq in FY 08, the same as in FY 06. It does reflect a draw down from the average of 18 BCT’s in FY 07, but that is simply because the troop surge of this year may wind down next year. The Army plans to maintain the same level of Combat Support Brigades and Combat Service Brigades in Iraq as in FY 06 and in FY 07. [FN-5].
Clearly the Department of Defense is not anticipating any significant reduction in military operations in Iraq any time soon. The Army’s justification material submitted in February 2007 for the Operation and Maintenance segment of its budget consistently uses the phrase: "The FY 2008 estimate assumes a level of effort consistent with the tempo of FY 2007 operations." [FN-6]
OPERATION & MAINTENANCE – ARMY
Operation & Maintenance is by far the largest budget category. The Army seeks $46.2 billion for FY 08-or 33% of the total military request for FY 08. This category includes such subcategories as: equipment maintenance; body armor and other protective gear; the Logistical Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP); and OPTEMPO.
"The troops in Iraq will be left without necessary supplies, equipment and weapons" is a common argument advanced to justify continued funding of the war in Iraq.
This argument can be refuted through an analysis of the Army’s justification materials for war funding. The following analysis focuses solely on the question about whether denying specific forms of funding might have a negative impact on troops currently deployed in Iraq. This analysis assumes that a cut off of funding would be tied to a safe and orderly withdrawal of these troops.
Theater Maintenance and Reset are the two broad categories of equipment maintenance. Theater Maintenance occurs in Southwest Asia: at forward repair bases in Iraq; or at repair facilities in Kuwait or Qatar. Reset occurs after a unit has redeployed to its home base from Iraq.
The Army is seeking to shift more repair work to Theater Maintenance, increasing its budget in this area to $2.3 billion in FY 08 (compared to $1.2 billion in FY 07). [FN-7] Unfortunately, the Army does not further break down how this $2.3 billion will be spent for each subcategory of Theater Maintenance. The subcategories include maintenance of Armored Security Vehicles and Stryker vehicles, explaining that the Stryker program "provides for the support of the deployed and next deploying SBCT.Funding also supports SLAT armor (protection against Rocket Propelled Grenade attacks) removal / reconstitution (spare parts in-theater) and sustainment package for Ranger Stryker vehicles." [FN-8] SBCT stands for "Stryker Brigade Combat Team".
"Left Behind Equipment" is another subcategory within Theater Maintenance. The Army explains that "Upon deployment, units are required to leave behind certain items of equipment and draw from the Theater Provided Equipment (TPE). The equipment left behind in CONUS must be repaired in preparation for reissue. Due to the severe shortages of equipment in CONUS, a large majority of the equipment is redistributed to support next deploying units, activations and shortages within units undergoing Reset." [FN-9]
This means that a unit deployed to Iraq leaves some of its equipment behind in the U.S. CONUS is short for the command for Continental United States. These deploying units then are issued equipment once they arrive in Iraq or Afghanistan (or at a staging area in Kuwait prior to entering Iraq).
It is clear that some unspecified portion of the $2.3 billion sought for Theater Maintenance is for troops currently deployed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. However, it is also clear that some unspecified portion is to repair equipment in-theater for use by troops in the process of being deployed to Iraq. It cannot plausibly be argued that cutting funds for the portion dedicated to repairing equipment for use by units in the process of being deployed to Iraq would in any way harm the troops currently deployed in Iraq (if, indeed, the goal is to withdraw from Iraq).
RESET OF EQUIPMENT
Reset is the other broad category of equipment maintenance and repair. Reset is the process of restoring a piece of equipment to full functionality. Reset takes place after a unit is redeployed to its home base outside of Iraq. The Army states that the higher demands placed upon equipment used in Iraq "increase maintenance requirements for equipment employed in the theater and do not immediately curtail when units and equipment redeploy to home station. Maintenance and supply / resupply actions following redeployment restore the depth to our force" [FN-10]
The Army seeks $7.8 billion for Reset for FY 08. That is 17% of the $46.2 billion sought by the Army in the supplemental for Operation and Maintenance. Since Reset is to prepare equipment for use by units that deploy back to Iraq-rather than units currently deployed in Iraq-eliminating Reset funds will not harm troops currently deployed in Iraq. It does not result in denying any troops currently deployed in Iraq any form of equipment necessary in Iraq.
BODY ARMOR AND OTHER PROTECTIVE GEAR – ARMY
The Army seeks $2.9 billion for "Clothing and Personal Equipment". Of this amount, $1.1 billion is for Individual Body Armor; $1.3 billion for Other Force Protection; and $0.5 billion for the Rapid Fielding Initiative, which "provides deployers and next deployers with enhanced individual clothing and equipment for increased force protection, mobility, survivability and lethality." [FN-11]
The Individual Body Armor includes funds for the purchase of 150,000 sets of Next Generation Ballistic Plates, Side Plates and Outer Tactical Vests as well as 150,000 Improved Advanced Combat Helmets. [FN-12]
It can indeed be plausibly argued that the expenditure of these funds directly benefits troops deployed in Iraq. At the same time, these expenditures could be reduced if the U.S. begins the withdrawal of troops from Iraq with complete withdrawal from Iraq completed by either December 31, 2007 or March 31, 2008.
OPTEMPO and LOGCAP–Army
The Army is seeking $9.8 billion for OPTEMPO, the pace and tempo of operations. No further breakout of this amount is provided in the Army’s justification materials. The Army states, "The estimated average annual deployed force will consist of approximately 150,000 Soldiers conducting continuous operations in harsh conditionsHeavy units equipped with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles consume large amounts of resources ( e.g., fuel, parts and supplies) during these types of operations" [FN-13]
The Army seeks $6 billion for the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) in FY 08 compared to $5.1 billion in FY 07. LOGCAP is the civilian contract support which provides basic services to the military forces in theater. It is the contract made famous by Haliburton a few years back. LOGCAP includes such items as "food services, power generation, electrical distribution, facilities management, dining facility operations, pest management" and other services. [FN-14]
It can be plausibly argued that a reduction in the funds for OPTEMPO and for LOGCAP would have a negative impact upon troops deployed to Iraq. At the same time, it can be plausibly argued that the amount allocated for OPTEMPO could be reduced by withdrawing U.S. troops to their bases in Iraq as a prelude to withdrawal and then completing the withdrawal from Iraq. Similarly, the LOGCAP funding amount would be reduced by the draw down and complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.
PROCUREMENT OF VEHICLES, WEAPONS AND AMMUNITION
"If the supplemental budget isn’t passed, troops in Iraq will be without vehicles with upgraded armor to protect against IED’s; without ammunition; without combat vehicles", or so the argument goes. Yet this argument is without merit-unless the U.S. fully intends to keep troops in Iraq for at least the next 18 to 36 months.
The procurement process spans three years. Simply because money is appropriated in the budget for a specific fiscal year does not mean that the money will be spent that year nor does it mean that the item being procured will be produced that fiscal year. Congress appropriates money in a fiscal year and grants authority to the Defense Department to enter into contracts for particular items. The Pentagon enters into contracts, obligating the funds to be paid to the company that produces the item. The company produces the item and delivers it to the Defense Department. All this takes place over a period of up to three years following the appropriation of funds.
To address this lag time in the normal procurement process, the Army established the "Rapid Equipping Force" and the "Rapid Fielding Initiative". The funds for these programs are included in the Operation and Maintenance portion of the budget and were discussed in the section on "Individual Body Armor and Other Protective Gear" above.
The Army seeks $21.1 billion for Procurement in the FY 08 supplemental spending request. The total military request is for $36 billion in procurement funds. I’ll focus on just a handful of items to illustrate the procurement process and to refute the argument that failure to fund the procurement of these items will further endanger troops in Iraq by leaving them without vehicles, equipment or weapons-unless, of course, the U.S. intends to continue to wage the war in Iraq for up to 3 years into the future.
It should be noted that the following discussion applies to the military’s request for supplemental funding for procurement in Fiscal Year 2008. The Army is also seeking funding for many of the following items within its regular baseline military budget request.
1) HMMWV–High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle
The Army is seeking $1.3 billion in supplemental spending in FY 08 to procure 6690 HMMWV’s, "a lightweight, high performancefamily of tactical vehicles" (known in the popular lexicon as Humvees). Those purchased will have "integrated armor and safety initiatives such as fire suppression and safety restraints" [FN-15].
The first HMMWV procured with FY 08 supplemental funds will be delivered to the Army in January 2009. The last one will be delivered in December 2009. [FN 16].
2) Armored Security Vehicle – ASV
The Army seeks $302 million in supplemental funding in FY 08 to "procure 371 ASV. The ASV is used by the Military Police (MP) to perform missions of Area Security, maneuver and Mobility Support, Police Intelligence Operations, and Law and Order Operations.ASV is also used by MPs to conduct Force Protection and Stabilization Operations in a war environment. Additionally, ASV is increasingly being used as a Convoy Protection Platform for Combat Support and Combat Services Support Units." [FN-17]
The first Armored Security Vehicle funded by the FY 08 supplemental is scheduled to be delivered in June 2009. The last will be delivered in April 2010. [FN-18]
3) Modification of In-Service Equipment
The Army seeks $1.1 billion in supplemental funding for various modifications to various pieces of in-service equipment. Modifications include: "Fragmentation (FRAG) Kit #3 provides armored protection around the HMMWV fuel tank. FRAG Kit #4 provides armored panel protection to the vehicle underbody for HMWWV and M915A2." [FN-19]
The FRAG Kit #3 "design is 95% complete" as of the February 2007 Army justification materials. The first output of this kit is scheduled for the first quarter of FY 2009 (which is October–December 08) with the last output of kits set for the fourth quarter of FY 09 (which is July–September 09). [FN-20]
FRAG Kit #4–armor for the underbelly of the HMMWV–further illustrates the reality that funds appropriated for procurement will not end up providing equipment to troops currently deployed in Iraq. The Army notes in its justification material that two prior designs failed in the design and testing phases and states that "Currently, theater, ARL, ATEC and TARDEC are trying a 3rd generation design to another set of requirements. Currently, this effort is in the early design phase and any successful Proof of Principle testing will require a MINIMUM of 180 days to develop and successfully integrate onto the M1114 UAH and M1151 Family."
The installation schedule provides for the first output of FRAG Kit #4 to occur in the second quarter of FY 09 (January–March 2010) with the final output scheduled in the first quarter of FY 10 (Oct to December 2010). [FN-21]
4) Bradley Base Sustainment
The Army seeks $1.4 billion to procure 481 recapitalized (upgraded) Bradley vehicles. The "A3 conversion improves on the Operation Desert Storm (ODS) variant through the addition of two 2nd Generation Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) devices, upgraded core electronics, improved ballistic fire control systems, enhanced command and control, situational awareness, and a collective Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection system." [FN-22]
The contract is scheduled to be awarded in November 2007, with the date of first delivery to be in March 2009. The last vehicles are set to be delivered in February 2010. [FN-23]
5) Stryker Vehicle Modifications
The Army seeks $0.5 billion in supplemental funding to procure "additional Survivability Enhancements for Stryker Vehicles (both 1 inch Slat armor and Stryker Reactive Armor Tiles (SRAT))" [FN-24]
The contract is scheduled to be awarded in July 2008, with the first delivery of the Stryker vehicle set for August 2009. Vehicles will be produced through July 2010. [FN-25].
6) Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles
The Army seeks $48 million to procure 148 sets of Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles. [FN-26]. "The tiles provide increased armor protection and crew survivability against shaped charge threats" [FN-27].
The contract is scheduled to be awarded in June 2008 with the first set of 84 tiles to be delivered in June 2009 and the second set of 64 tiles to be delivered in the fourth quarter of FY 09 (July–September 2009). [FN-28]
7) Abrams Upgrade
The Army seeks $1.3 billion in supplemental funding to upgrade 235 M1/M1A1 tanks to the M1A2 System Enhancement Program configuration which "has improved frontal and side armor for enhance crew survivability." [FN-29]
The first upgraded vehicle is to be delivered in January 2009 with the last being delivered in December 2009. [FN-30]
One might think that ammunition would be very readily and quickly produced and delivered after Congress has appropriated funds to procure ammunition. You’d be wrong. The earliest that any ammunition procured with the supplemental spending package would be delivered is May 2008, with delivery continued through May 2009. That’s for a single item-the CTG 12 Gauge Breaching Round "used to gain access through high doors and entryways." [FN-31]
Otherwise, the earliest expected date for delivery of a procured ammunition item would be in October of 2008. Most items would not begin to be delivered to the Army until January 2009 (or later), with delivery continuing into 2010. [FN-32]
JEFF LEYS is Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and a national organizer for the Occupation Project campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end Iraq war funding. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
1) p. 4. "Operation and Maintenance, Army: Justification Book, Volume I", Department of the Army, Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Supplemental Budget Estimates, February 2007.
2) Department of the Navy. FY 2008 GWOT Request. Operation and Maintenance, Marine Corps. O-1 Line Item Summary, in Department of the Navy. Fiscal Year (FY) 2008/2009 Budget Estimates. Justification of Estimates. FY 2008 Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Request, February 2007.
3) p. 31. Army Military Personnel. Department of Defense. FY 2008 Supplemental Request for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). February 2007.
4) Ibid, p. 4.
5) op. cit., "Operation and Maintenance, Army", p. 4
6) See for example, Ibid, p. 7, 8, 10, 11.
7) Ibid. p. 16
8) Ibid, p. 17
9) Ibid, p. 17
10) Ibid, p. 22
11) Ibid, p. 8 and 9
12) Ibid, p. 8
13) Ibid, p. 13
14) Ibid, p. 13
15) p. 19. "Other Procurement, Army: Tactical and Support Vehicles, Budget Activity 1", Department of the Army, Procurement Programs, Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book, FY 2008 Global War on Terror Budget Estimate. February 2007.
16) Ibid, p. 22
17) Ibid, p. 59
18) Ibid, p. 62 and 63
19) Ibid, p. 91
20) Ibid, p. 97
21) Ibid, p. 125
22) p. 3. Department of the Army; Procurement Programs; Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book; FY 2008 Global War on Terror Budget Estimate; Weapons and Tracked Combat Vehicles, Army. February 2007.
23) Ibid., p. 5, 6, 7
24) Ibid, p. 9
25) Ibid, p. 13, 14, and 15
26) Ibid, p. 25
27) Ibid, p. 27.
28) Ibid, p. 27
29) Ibid, p. 58
30) Ibid, p. 62
31) p. 40 and 42. Department of the Army: Procurement Programs; Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book; FY 2008 Global War On Terror Budget Estimate; Procurement of Ammunition, Army. February 2007.