Reed Leads Charge to Upgrade Militarys Readiness and Equipment Needs
Washington, DC In an effort to strengthen our military and address the Army and Marines mounting equipment needs, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today unveiled legislation to add $10.2 billion to the $50 billion in emergency war funding already in the fiscal 2007 Defense appropriations bill. Reed's measure will provide an additional $6 billion for the Army to repair and rehabilitate equipment worn out in operations. It will also provide $3.9 billion for the Marine Corps to buy needed equipment such as combat vehicles, radios, and night vision equipment and $326 million for the stockpiling of war supplies throughout the Armed Forces. The wear and tear of todays operations in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be addressed or there will be severe long term consequences for the nation and for the land forces of the nation. The critical immediate problem is equipment, the state of equipment, said Reed, a member of the Armed Services Committee. The Army and Marines need to reset -- their general term to rehabilitate, repair and replace equipment -- and they are going to need a great deal of money to do this reset. The National Security Advisory Group, a group of defense and national security experts chaired by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, today sent a letter to the Democratic Leaders noting that two-thirds of the Armys operating force, active and reserve, is now reporting in as unready, and that there is not a single non-deployed Army Brigade Combat Team in the United States that is ready to deploy. The Group said: the bottom line is that our Army currently has no ready, strategic reserve. Not since the Vietnam era and its aftermath has the Armys readiness been so degraded. About 25 plus years ago I commanded a paratrooper company. Let me tell you, one of the things that strikes at morale more fiercely than anything else is telling soldiers they have to operate with inadequate and poorly repaired equipment. Their life depends upon this equipment, said Reed. And it also sends a signal to soldiers and Marines everywhere how much we really care about them. Outside the speeches and parades and rhetoric, weve got to give them the best equipment so they can do their job and come home to us. Reed noted that during a recent hearing before the House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congressman Ike Skelton asked General Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the Army, Are you comfortable with the readiness level for the non-deployed units that are in the continental United States? General Schoomaker replied, No. These are disturbing conclusions from the top officer in the Army and military experts, said Reed. For these reasons, when the Senate turns to consideration of the Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Appropriations bill, Senator Dodd (D-CT) and I plan to offer an amendment to add $10.2 billion in emergency spending for reset. Reeds amendment will provide $3.9 billion for the Marine Corps to buy needed equipment such as combat vehicles, radios and night vision equipment. The amendment will also provide $6 billion for the Army to repair and rehabilitate equipment worn out in operations and $326 million for War Reserve Secondary Items. The War Reserve includes such necessities as rations, medical supplies, clothing and spare parts. At the present time, if our soldiers had to respond to a new crisis, the Army would only be able to supply rations and medical supplies for five days with an anticipated re-supply 30 days later. We simply cannot allow our troops to be in such a situation, concluded Reed. The men and women of our Armed Forces are risking their lives every day, doing a superb job to defend us. The American people need to know that they need help with their equipment. And I hope we can assure them that this help will be provided.