Army On Track for Plus-up Equipment, New Requirements
Feb 13, 2007
Recent media reports and a three-page summary from a classified Defense Department Inspector General report suggest the Army may have difficulty meeting its equipment requirements with regard to the recently announced troop increase in Iraq. These media reports are inaccurate and paint an incomplete picture. The U.S. Army's priority is sending only the best trained and equipped Soldiers into combat operations and that means providing the best force protection equipment for Soldiers. Even as we plus up troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom and beyond, force protection will not be shortchanged. Further, the Army will ensure all these Soldiers continue to have the best and most capable equipment in the world.
"Combat is an inherently dangerous and risky endeavor," said Brig. Gen. Chuck Anderson, a senior leader for the Army’s force development section. "The one area the Army will not accept risk is in the protection of our most valuable resource - the Soldier. As our additional forces reach Iraq, they will have the most modern force protection equipment available."
The Army began the Global War on Terrorism with equipment shortages totaling $56 billion from previous decades. In the last several years, the Army has transformed itself more than any other military in history and rapidly acquires ever-improving equipment on a scale not seen since World War II. This agility was forced by the reality of the battlefield: urban combat, the enemy’s selection of casualty producing weapons like Improvised Explosive Devices, and the need to operate in dispersed locations across vast distances are examples. As the combat environment our Soldiers fight in continues to change, the requirements for the type of equipment necessary to fight successfully and win also change.
So, while engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, training and rotating thousands of Soldiers and their units year after year, the Army has provided Soldiers with the best in individual body armor and continues to improve that protective system as technology evolves. In Iraq alone, the Army has gone from a low of 400 up-armored Humvees to nearly 15,000 up-armored Humvees patrolling neighborhoods, protecting troops, and mitigating risk from most types of enemy munitions.
And, while all these improvements have been substantial, the comprehensive process of assessing lessons learned to find and accelerate technological advancements to Soldiers continues.
An excellent example is how the Army is improving the Humvee, based on the ever-changing battlefield threat. As of this date, the Army has produced enough Frag Kit #5 Retrofit kits to outfit every Humvee in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands of these kits are being flown into theater every month and they are being installed in theater, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure Soldiers have the best protection available. Retrofit of vehicles being used in Iraq and Kuwait has been synchronized with the plus-up, and is scheduled to be completed this Spring. Retrofits of vehicles being used in Afghanistan are scheduled to be completed this Summer.
The draft Defense Department Inspector General report, also much-discussed in the media, is an anecdote-based survey that includes interviews with Soldiers about their experiences from 2004-2005 in Afghanistan, and the experiences of multi-Service Members (slightly more than half were U.S. Army) from various units in Iraq in May 2006. We are closely reviewing the Inspector General’s findings and recommendations, always ready to apply lessons learned.
The report’s findings for Iraq were actually positive, and in almost all categories there were no equipment shortages in Army units there. Almost all of the Army shortages described in the report were in Afghanistan, with the majority of those shortages in Task Force Phoenix, the US-lead coalition force that trains Afghan security forces. The equipping conditions described in Afghanistan, though accurate for the report’s time period, are dated. The requirement for more and more Afghan security forces means the requirement for US personnel and equipment to execute the train-and-equip mission has increased even further since the date of the report. And these new requirements are being addressed right now. "We’ve had steady and continuous improvement in force protection assets over the past year,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Durbin, the senior American trainer for Afghan security forces. “To date, the increased critical force protection requirement my command has identified has been validated and approved and I am totally confident that everything possible is being done to ensure that equipment arrives in theater as quickly as possible."
Also, the DoD IG report’s finding that the Army lacks a standard process to determine equipping requirements is incorrect. The Army Requirement and Resource Board (AR2B), a weekly three-star level event with key overseas headquarters linked by video teleconference is the process that reviews emerging theater requirements and operational needs and determines how to solve equipping problems for deployed and deploying units. Through this process – in place and continually refined since early 2003 -- the Army continues to work closely with commanders on the ground, U.S. Central Command, the Joint Staff and the Defense Department to provide Soldiers and other U.S. forces with needed equipment in a timely manner. Unlike the report’s recommendation, the Army believes that it would be inefficient to simply follow a rigid, uniform approach in equipping forces in view of the constantly changing realities on the battlefield. Instead, the Army’s process responds rapidly and flexibly to the assessments that commanders continually make in the field in determining the exact resources they require to accomplish their missions and safeguard the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines under their command. With each new assessment, the Army has been quick to respond, and will continue to do so.
Facing even greater requirements now in 2007, and to ensure full protection with no compromises, the Army has developed a plan to make use of every available asset worldwide to fully equip plus up forces. The essential elements of the plan include:
1. Ensuring Soldiers of deploying units have the equipment they need to train with before deployment.
2. Preparing unit sets of what we call "TPE" (Theater Provided Equipment) for the forces when they arrive in theater.
3. Speeding up production of key "in demand" systems, capabilities and additional equipment like armored trucks.
4. Retro-fitting -- in theater or back in the United States -- equipment that has been in the fight with updated force protection.
5. Continuously reviewing and streamlining the process to identify, request, validate and deliver needed equipment to the Soldier. The Equipping Common Operating Picture System started Sept. 1, 2006, provides a worldwide collaborative data base and tracking capability for equipment needs and is an example one such improvement made from this constant review.
"We will fully resource our combat commanders for this new plus up mission, and assure them we will satisfy their theater force protection requirements for our Soldiers. It is always the priority mission, “ said Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs.
For additional information the media may contact Lt. Col. William Wiggins, Office of the Chief Army Public Affairs, 703-697-7591.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|