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Project on Defense Alternatives
The Project on Defense Alternatives
Copyright ©The Commonwealth Institute.
Replacing & Repairing Equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan: the Army's Reset Program
Resetting the Army's equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost substantially less than the funds it has requested, according to CBO estimates. The Army's funding request is $13 billion per year of combat operations and two years after withdrawal.
CBO finds that more than 40 percent of the Army's requested reset funding has actually been designated for non-reset activities such as upgrading systems and buying new equipment - and that this has consistently been the case since 2005.
Additionally, the Army and the Bush administration has claimed time-critical war needs in its push for increased reset funding. In reality, some activities, such as resetting the Army's pre-positioned equipment "sets" in theater, can be delayed until after troop withdrawal.
CBO also concludes that equipment shortages, publicized by military officials and on Capitol Hill, exist only in certain systems - such as modern trucks - and that those shortages existed before the invasion of Iraq. So funding those needs should not fall under the reset program.
In fact, CBO finds that the Army practice of upgrading equipment returning from Iraq - rather than reconditioning - may be contributing to shortages due to increased time associated to with upgrading compared to reconditioning.
The Possible Costs to the U.S. of Maintaining a Long-Term Military Presence in Iraq
CBO calculates the cost of sustaining a long-term US military presence in Iraq to be similar to Korea and Northeast Asia.
An active combat scenario with 55,000 military personnel rotating in and out of Iraq and with a pace of combat operations continuing at its current level would cost $4 to $8 billion up-front and $25 billion for each year of deployment.
A non-combat scenario with 55,000 personnel stationed long-term in Iraq similar to Korea, would involve a one-time $8 billion price tag, mostly for base construction, but annual costs would be $10 billion or less.
This significantly lower annual cost estimate in a non-combat, slower-rotating scenario is due to reduced need for equipment and maintenance, fuel and other materials and decreased transportation and personnel costs. This cost could be lower if Iraq's economy and infrastructure develop and advance to make the procurement of necessary good and services faster and easier.
This estimate only includes cost of operations in Iraq and does not account for funding for local security forces, diplomatic functions and international aid. CBO does not define what it means by long-term, only approximating the incremental costs for each year of staying in Iraq.
This analysis takes on new significance in light of the recently-announced set of "principles" between the Bush administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a long-term troop presence in Iraq, to protect al-Maliki's government against outside threats and internal coups.1
1. Qassim Abdul-Zahra, "Iraqis May Offer U.S. Deal to Stay Longer," The Associated Press, 26 November 2007; and Spencer Ackerman, "White House Releases 'Principles' for Permanent Iraqi Presence," TPM Muckraker, 26 November 2007. Also see Greg Bruno, "Going Long in Iraq," Council on Foreign Relations, 03 October 2007.
2. Also see Carl Conetta, "War & Consequences: Global Terrorism has Increased Since 9/11 Attacks," PDA Briefing Memo #38, 25 September 2006.
4. William M. Arkin "What $10 Billion Has Bought in Pakistan", WashingtonPost.com, 06 November 2007; and Greg Miller, "US Military Aid to Pakistan Misses Its al-Qaeda Target," Los Angeles Times, 05 November 2007.
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism: Background and Issues for Congress
Significantly, the new report underscores democracy as a counterterrorism strategy. This differs from the 2003 Strategy that saw democracy as an end result of eliminating terrorist recruitment and activity.
However, the problems seen in the budding democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan, democratic elections of terrorism-linked organizations in the Gaza Strip (Hamas) and Lebanon (Hezbollah), as well as the undemocratic nature of many U.S. allies in the "global war on terror" such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, suggest a fallacy in the strategic notion laid out in the 2006 document.
The 2006 Strategy de-emphasizes the use of economic and political tools to strengthen countries that are vulnerable to terrorist ideologies. Rather, it stresses isolating and sanctioning countries that sponsor terrorism, and providing military and nation-building aid to failed states to help them prevent terrorists from creating safe havens.
Perl finds that the 2006 Strategy downplays or inadequately addresses the effects of a) heavy-handed U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the Middle East and South Asia, b) poverty and c) the Israel-Palestinian crisis.
Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the 2006 Strategy is its claim that terrorism is not a result of U.S. action and policy in Iraq.
However, numerous reports, polls and studies - including the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate - have found Iraq to be a major terrorist breeding ground and U.S. involvement in Iraq to be a key factor behind the upsurge in terrorist recruitment worldwide.2
This is evidence of the "disconnect" between the 2006 Strategy and declassified portions of the April 2006 and January and June 2007 NIEs, with the former sidestepping concerns or recommendations made by the NIEs and sometimes even contradicting them.
Pakistan's Political Crisis & State of Emergency
CRS assesses the implications of Gen. Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency for U.S.-Pakistan relations and finds the U.S. reluctant to reprimand Pakistan too strongly by cutting aid for fear of hampering joint anti-terrorism initiatives.3
Even as the Bush administration touts the importance of democracy as a counterterrorism strategy in its 2006 Strategy for Combating Terrorism (see above), it bolstered Musharraf's reign when he was a president in uniform.
The Bush administration's "fairly tepid" reaction to Musharraf's imposition of martial law and suspension of the constitution on Nov. 3, showed that "President Bush's so-called Freedom Agenda is applied selectively and without principle," according to Kronstadt.
Bush has waived coup-related aid sanctions to Musharraf five times since September 2001 on the basis that Pakistan is a key ally in the fight against terrorism and that the U.S. is helping Pakistan transition to democracy.
Interestingly, Kronstadt reports that the bulk of the U.S. multi-billion security aid to Pakistan has been spent on heavy weaponry such as airborne early warning aircraft, and anti-ship and anti-armor missiles - hardly suited to fighting guerilla insurgents and elusive al-Qaeda members.4
Kronstadt surmises that Musharraf's authoritarian rule actually strengthens extremists by suppressing moderate political voices. This seems to be true, as news reports cite extremist militants making inroads into the hinterlands of Pakistan.5
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