Saturday, January 21, 2006

Guard Equipment

The Guard is depleting its weapons by fighting in Iraq and the military is planning to correct that. An interesting Army press conference addresses this:

Remember, during the '90s, not to get into the details, the Army was underfunded in terms of equipment. We are currently still making up for that. So the stay-behind equipment is one way to manage that. It also is a very good -- it's very good management in terms of logistics.

In the FYDP, there is $20 billion for the Guard equipment. So the Guard will be equipped -- the Guard is going to be organized and equipped in the same way the active Army's going to be organized and equipped.

The brigade combat teams, the organizational structure of -- everything in the Guard is the same as it is in the active; the numbers are just different. But they will be fully resourced. Again, the principle that the chief and I developed is fully resourced and ready Army in terms of manning and equipment, again, supported by a very robust and comprehensive modernization program, which for the ground forces is called the Future Combat Systems program.

First of all, it isn't really fair to blame the shortages on the 1990s lack of procurement. The Cold War ended suddenly and with the reduction in forces, we were able to use existing stocks to improve all forces by retiring older models. Had we not gone to war, we would have never noticed the lack of procurement as we developed and fielded new equipment at a peacetime pace. It is only because we are using up those stocks produced during the Cold War pretty quickly in war (mostly due to wear and tear but also some to combat losses) that we are seeing some shortages. The Clinton administration was lucky to be able to rely on the stocks produced already, and I imagine any administation would have done the same.

Leaving equipment in Iraq for follow-on troops or for eventual transfer to the Iraqis also makes sense even if particular units come home stripped of their gear. Further, it makes sense to use up existing older equipment as long as it is replaced with the new stuff in a timely fashion, and as long as we still have enough of the old stuff around to fight with until the new FCS are fielded.

In theory, as this spending is completed, we'll have a National Guard equipped like the active component and focused on being capable of keeping a small portion of its troops continuously on active duty to supplement the active component to fight in the war.

We shall see if recruitment can keep pace with a semi-active reserve force.

I suspect we may have to develop a two-tier reserve force with higher pay and benefits for the semi-regulars and traditional compensation for the traditional reserve forces that are not expected to be mobilized short of a national emergency and general mobilization.