Operations in Iraq have placed the heaviest burden on the active and reserve components of the U.S. Army. While most attention has rightly focused on the war’s impact on our men and women in uniform, this report examines another, more hidden impact that the war in Iraq has had on the U.S. Army — the stress placed on Army equipment and its implications for U.S. military performance and readiness.
Three years after the invasion of Iraq, strains are beginning to appear in the U.S. Army’s equipment arsenal, reducing its capacity to supply its troops with the best warfighting tools available. While the Army has managed to sustain a high level of readiness in Iraq despite equipment strains, readiness for non-deployed units and units outside of Iraq has already been reduced.
In order to sustain the current pace of military operations in Iraq without leaving the nation vulnerable to aggression in other places, the Department of Defense (DoD) must continuously repair, rebuild and replace equipment worn out or destroyed by the war effort, a process known as “reset.” However, normal sustainment patterns have been threatened by the war in Iraq due to the high utilization rates and harsh conditions of the Iraqi environment. The Abrams tank, for example, is operating at six times its rate during peacetime, while medium and heavy trucks are operating at 10 times the typical peacetime rate. These equipment strains currently undermine the Army’s ability to confront new challenges overseas or cope with disasters at home and threaten to impede operations in Iraq over the long term.
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