Thursday, July 22, 2004

Mortgaging America's future? Bring it on!

Apparently unaware that the mission was accomplished, today's New York Times has stories featuring some of the ways that we borrowing against our future to pay for the continuing war in Iraq. 
Army to Call Up Recruits Earlier

In what critics say is another sign of increasing stress on the military, the Army has been forced to bring more new recruits immediately into the ranks to meet recruiting goals for 2004, instead of allowing them to defer entry until the next accounting year, which starts in October.

As a result, recruiters will enter the new year without the usual cushion of incoming soldiers, making it that much harder to make their quotas for 2005. Instead of knowing the names of nearly half the coming year's expected arrivals in October, as the Army did last year, or even the names of around one in three, as is the normal goal, this October the recruiting command will have identified only about one of five of the boot camp class of 2005 in advance.


[T]apping into the bank of recruits is a telling sign that the Army is having problems filling its ranks to meet the deployments of more than 120,000 soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan.


"Guys the mission is at risk!" Col. Peter M. Vangjel, a deputy commander of the Army Recruiting Command, wrote to battalion commanders and top enlisted soldiers in an April 21 e-mail message. "We can NOT miss this mission. I need your full support."

War Costs Exceed Budget, Watchdog Panel Says

Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are running $12.3 billion over budget this year, and Pentagon officials are trying to make up for the shortfall by transferring money from other accounts and delaying refurbishment of worn-out equipment in Iraq, the General Accountability Office said Wednesday.


[T]he Army was running about $9.4 billion short of what had been budgeted. By putting off other kinds of spending until next year, the military is likely to run up higher costs in future


Administration officials have acknowledged that costs in Iraq are running higher than the $65 billion that Congress approved for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the administration's urging, Congress is expected to pass an appropriations bill this week that contains $25 billion in funds for Iraq that can be used immediately.


The G.A.O. estimate on military spending in Iraq is almost the exact opposite of the budget outlook for reconstruction. Congress approved $18.7 billion for reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of that for Iraq, but only a few billion have actually been spent.
Much of the delay stems from the insecurity confronting foreign contractors in Iraq, the same factor that has caused American commanders to keep troop levels at much higher levels than expected.
And let us never forget those who have paid their all for this war.

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