Trent Telenko emails to note: While this passage in a recent Ralph Peters column sounds reasonable: bq. "Poland did have one request - a humble one, in the great scheme of things. Warsaw asked for $47 million to modernize six used, American-built C-130 transport aircraft and to purchase American-built HMMWV all-terrain vehicles so elite Polish units could better integrate operations with American forces. Much of the money would go right back to U.S. factories and workers." It shows that Ralph Peters is both wrong and that he never made it to the US Military's Industrial War College. We are running into Churchill's classic military industrial mobilization paradigm: "The first year you get nothing, the second year you get a trickle, the third year you get all you want." Afghanistan turned on the precision guided munitions part of the defense industrial base. It did not turn on the US Army and Marine Corps' wheeled and armored vehicle industrial base. Both Afghanistan and Iraq were short wars in terms of offensive operations, and our industrial support systems are built around short wars. It is too expensive to keep a large unused industrial capacity for both without a threat like the Soviet Union, so Congress didn't. Now we are paying the price.
The US Army has caught unholy hell because it shipped interceptor body armor to the Poles ahead of US National Guard formations getting ready for or now in Iraq. It isn't going to do the same with HMMWVs. The type of HMMWV that the Poles want are the M1114 armored variants. The Army is flat out at maximum production capacity with the vehicle, and every truck that it lets the Poles buy is one less for American troops in Iraq. The issue is likely the same for C-130s. The USAF can only fly C-130s and C-17s into Baghdad and Kabul because of the shoulder fired missile threat, and it is flying only the latest and most up to date electronic counter measures equipped planes. The Poles want the same anti-missile equipment that the USAF is using up in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and there is none to spare. This article from the Government Executive about Military Depots -- and the Congressional politics involved -- makes clear the problems of ground forces industrial mobilization. See this passage:
"The length and high tempo of Iraq operations are stressing all the Army's depots. Gary Motsek, deputy commander for support operations at the Army Materiel Command, says all five depots - at Red River; Anniston, Ala.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Letterkenny, Pa.; and Tobyhanna, Pa. - are spending more money and employing more people this year than last year. Spending is expected to double from $2 billion in fiscal 2003 to $4.5 billion in 2004, and overall employment could rise by as much as 15 percent - from about 7,000 to 8,000 or more. "Depots across the board will be executing substantially more work than they have in the past," says Motsek. To handle the rising tide of work, the Army may, for the first time, request a Pentagon waiver of the so- called "50-50" rule, which prevents contractors from performing more than half of all depot work. The Army is running out of people and space to do the work. Currently, the Army contracts out about 48 percent of its depot work to contractors."...and this passage:
"Lately, workers have had to discard more shoes than usual. Under normal wear, Bradley tracks are changed once a year, after 1,000 miles of wear. Today they are reaching the 1,000-mile mark in two or three months. As a result, the Red River production facility, the Army's only in-house source of Bradley tracks (Goodyear does some limited work), has gone from producing 5,000 to 6,000 shoes a month (enough to outfit about 30 Bradleys) to as many as 18,000 a month (enough for about 107 Bradleys). This year, the facility has ramped up from three shifts, five days a week, to three shifts - including one that's 12 hours long - seven days a week. The number of federal workers at the rubber plant has increased from 78 to 128 and more contractors have been brought on under short-term contracts to help cover the added shifts. Depot employees say they view the extra hours as their contribution to the war. Many wage-grade employees have worked so much overtime that they have stopped getting extra pay. Instead, they trade their overtime for more vacation days because earning more money would push them into higher tax brackets. Russell Vogeltanz, a front-line supervisor in the rubber facility, says he usually has no problem finding workers willing to extend their shift from eight to 12 hours or to work a weekend, though "it's a little hard to make people come out on Sunday, being the Lord's Day," he says. Not only have workers been putting in overtime, but they also have been going places they never expected. Before the Iraq war began, the Army transformed an empty warehouse at the Army's Arifjan Camp in Kuwait into a sixth depot. Nearly 500 civilian workers rotated in and out of the front-line repair center during the past year preparing for combat and then maintaining equipment during the fighting. It is the first depot created in a theater of war. Motsek says that having a depot near the battlefield saves the money and time required to ship equipment stateside. "Instead of just pushing parts and giving advice, these guys are there tearing down engines and making repairs," he says."