Thursday, August 26, 2004

No excuse for this - NONE

Apparently it isn't just the Army that is suffering these days. Money for tax cuts but not for ammo. Less time for training. That's BS. It leads to higher casualties. And with the House, Senate, and Presidency under the control of one party it sure as hell isn't the Democrats that are at fault.

I wonder how many of you even heard this story? Probably not many. And you accuse the media of "liberal" bias.

Marines slash final combat training in half
By: David Wood
Star-Ledger - New Jersey

Under growing pressure to ship Marines to Iraq, the Marine Corps is cutting in half the rigorous field combat training it gives units preparing to deploy, senior officers say.
The Marines hope to make up the time by intensifying this final, pre-deployment training and focusing it on skills needed to survive and prevail in Iraq's brutal combat conditions. This means practicing more nighttime operations, ambushes, city fighting and guarding of convoys.
The exercise, called a CAX in Marine lingo, has been shortened from 23 to 11 days, Col. Blake Crowe, operations officer for the Marine Corps Training Command at Quantico, Va., said in an interview.
This was done, Crowe said, to "get more battalions through" in a shorter period of time. Until now, the Marine Corps trained 10 battalions in CAX every six months. Under the accelerated schedule, it will train eight battalions in two months.
The intense course, to begin this fall at the Marine desert training base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., will for the first time include thousands of Marines who hold traditionally noncombat jobs such as truck driver, intelligence analyst and jet aircraft technician.
Increasingly, these "noninfantry" Marines are deploying into combat zones where they find themselves suddenly under fire and unprepared. Commanders in Iraq report that some Marines, pressed into the fight from their truck cabs and computer consoles, have not had combat training in a decade.
"This is a high priority, identified in after-action reports" from commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq, Crowe said.
All Marines get some entry-level combat training. New infantrymen get 50 days of hard schooling in weapons handling and combat tactics. In contrast, those headed into noninfantry jobs get just 16 days in the muddy, mosquito-swarmed woods of Camp Lejeune in coastal North Carolina. Then they depart for schools in technical specialties ranging from food management to logistics planning and helicopter flight crews.
Once units are alerted for duty in Iraq, they will be cycled through the training at Twentynine Palms -- infantrymen and clerks, cooks and truck drivers alike.
Approximately 31,000 Marines are in Iraq -- almost 20 percent of the active-duty force that also deploys to Afghanistan, Okinawa and the major anti-terrorist base in Djibouti, on the Red Sea.
Across the Marine Corps, the unanticipated and unbudgeted requirements of rotating fresh, well-trained troops through Iraq have forced dramatic and sometimes painful adjustments and compromises.
The new, noninfantry Marines who show up for their crash course in combat at Camp Lejeune each year are well aware of the building pressure. They literally run from one event to the next, and in their final field exercise they work around the clock, snatching 20 or 30 minutes of sleep when they can.
"I wish we did have more time," said Capt. Dan Snyder, who oversees the teaching of 54 specific combat skills. "It's difficult to do in the time we have."
That's incentive for Camp Lejeune's instructors -- many of them veterans of combat in Iraq -- to bear down hard during the 16 days in the field.
"You have a 70 percent chance of going into combat, a 5 percent chance of getting killed or wounded -- pay attention!" Staff Sgt. Charles Kilgore, a combat instructor, barked at a formation of exhausted Marines in sodden, sweat-stained fatigues and muddy boots.
"I've definitely seen a ramp-up in intensity here," said Capt. Mark Reid, who oversees combat instructors. "This is not, 'Let us entertain you on your way to jet mechanics school.' What they're learning here they will be doing in Iraq or Afghanistan."
"It's demanding," admitted Pvt. Daniel Sanabria-Morales, 22, of North Plainfield, N.J. "In boot camp they tell you how to do everything. Here you gotta be thinking. And we're constantly on the move."
The Marines are tested on each of the 54 specific skills they must master, answering questions on written tests and demonstrating proficiency in front of an instructor. Those who fail are retaught until they can pass.
But money is short, and so is time.
Staff Sgt. Don Allen, a combat instructor, said his trainees watch demonstrations of the M203 grenade launcher, the Squad Automatic Weapon and the .50-caliber machine gun, but not everyone gets to actually fire the weapons.
"It's financial," said Allen, a combat engineer who fought in Iraq last year with the 8th Marines. "I wish I had the money for them to shoot actual rounds. When I went through this training in 1995, we all shot every weapon."
The final 36 hours of Camp Lejeune's 16-day course begins at 5 a.m. and ends with a 15-kilometer march with full combat loads. In between are back-to-back classes and field exercises.
"It's not that stressful; it's more fun," said Pvt. Rosalind Sanchez of Menifee, Calif. "This is why I joined."
"They give you too much information, class after class," said Pfc. Christopher Schneider, a 20-year-old from Longwood, Fla., who will train as an aircraft airframe mechanic. "But if I went to Iraq, I'd definitely feel confident."

7 comments:

spaceCADETzoom said...

Defense budgets were decreased under the Clinton administration despite the increase in deployments (as in obligations to spots in the globe...today we have a 900 pound gorilla of Iraq, whereas we had hundreds o lil monkeys before--the ol' "globocop" argument). THe cuts started there. I would understand, as the article suggests, it's the big Iraq issue that is cutting short certain training. I wouldn't necesarilly conclude that money issues (i.e. the current administration is cutting back on defense sepnding) are the problem...but the obligations that we have now are greater in inensity (though, not volume). Obviously, you can argue that going into Iraq was wrong, or whatever, but that isn't the same as arguing that the administration is cutting the budget for "ammo".

As an examplem, our base pay increased under Bush...
Now, yes, you may be cynical enough to believe that such pay increases of soldiers are "worthless" or are token displays...but the previous administration was certainly not one known to be forthcoming with defense budgets (to be fair, there was a lot of post-Cold War cuts that were largely bipartisan).

That said, I'd hardly simplify the whole thing to "money for tax cuts but not for ammo." You're not a fan of Rumsfeld or the administration, fine. But I don't think we can link it to a claim that the current administration is cutting corners on troops for money. You can argue Iraq is wrong...but then, you'd probably just turn blue in the face...and we've all heard it before, anyway.

I do find it indteresting the article in the newer post above complains that we're apparently wasting "too much" money on defense in "budget-buster weapons systems" yet summarily dismisses the Crusader and Comanche cancelations as token. And in the same breath we find that the military is being "undercut" somehow. But again, I guess such expendisture is evil corporations' doing...

BTW, I'm from a line of engineers...my family is tied to the defense industry, we've seen the ups and downs. I've seen firsthand what defense budget cuts are, and what offshoring is. I think most are ignorant about how tied everyone (from frenchfry chefs to ceo's) is to the manufacturing and sales of Apache helicopters, or F-18s. More cities than St Louis, Everett, Long Beach or Mesa are affected by the fluctuation of C-17's and Apaches and UAV's...

But maybe those are simply things that are "kept alive by lobbyists"...worthless to servicemen deployed and thier families stateside...all of our money is in dotcoms right? Or maybe our flourishing furniture/textile/labor industry?

just my 2 cents.

vrangel said...

Tax cuts were needed to keep economy going after bubble burst. Last time it happened it was 1929 and the price of inaction was huge.

You cannot have strong military without strong economy.
Soviet Union tried, we know the results.

this we'll defend said...

Clinton (and the Republicans) downsized the military post-cold war, and they were right to do it. Now we are at war and need more ammo and we don't have it. And we have been at war for some time now, so saying "Clinton did it too" is not only inaccurate but downright silly.

Vrangel is right - military and economic power are co-dependent. Which is why I'm voting for Kerry. I want America to have more of both.

Let's see how the Bush spinmasters spin today's figures showing that for the 3rd year in a row there is a higher % of people below the poverty line than the previous year, and same for lack of health insurance. Yes, we are "turning the corner," but in which direction?

vrangel said...

OK then lets talk about ammo. There are shortages (though not in Iraq) and issue is being addressed somewhat.
We are buying all capacity we can find around the world including from Israel.
Of course it's quite expensive to solve a problem that way.

Few months ago I read an account about how 200,000 bullets were spent in tiny town in Iraq one day.

There's no any american presence there, town is in a middle of nowhere in sunni area. Town is dominated by hostile armed locals.

One day our guys decide to have a show of force. They moved into town, chose a house in a center, paid owner to leave and set a position on the roof. Bradleys were positioned close by.
Then they started to blast rock music and challenge hostiles to come out and fight like men. Which they did.

Shooting commenced and by the end of the day hostiles went home. So did our guys. They returned to their base.
There were no casualties on our side. Hostiles were seen carrying their men whether dead or wounded who knows.

The roof was covered with solid layer of brass casings, total count 200,000 .

I am not sure anything at all was achieved by going through all that trouble.

So what's the deal about ammo shortage.It's the same as with free electricity. It won't be enough of it ever.
I would suggest that half of war cost should come out of Pentagon budget. Pretty soon there will be questions asked down a chain of command about what you guys did with all that ammo we paid for out of our own pocket.

But I am not holding my breath, Rumsfeld (or his successor) won't ask for it. Problem will be solved old fashioned way, by throwing money at it.

We need to spend more on military, don't you see !!!

spaceCADETzoom said...

No, I didn't say "Clinton did it too", I was saying "clinton did it." (Though I made the clear statement this was bipartisan post-cold war cutbacks) Military expenditure has been up since. Two examples are that base pay has gone up and C-17 production has been up. Likewise UAV's...etc. there are other examples.

The problem I was getting at wasn't that there were current military cutbacks, but we now have Iraq which is taking up plenty of resources. After years of cutbacks (with plenty of globocop deployments in unison), we now found ourselves where we are with a slightly higher budget, but a much more focused expenditure (i.e. it's all going to Iraq, rather than lowintensity /high frequency stuff).

Again you can argue that going to Iraq is wrong...but it seems you are trying to say the current administration is somehow spending less money on the military....that isn't the case.

spaceCADETzoom said...

Also, while expenditure is slightly up...the defense industry is still reeling from the post-Cold War cutbacks. Don't you think that has something to do with the economy? I'm not a fan of the commanche (though, selfishly, that was because I had ties to the McdonnelDOuglas/Bell competitor of the LHX program) but don't you think jobs were lost there in its cancelation? Or take my C-17 example...Bush ordered more C-17's within the past year (sorry, no such orders were placed the previous admin), but the Mcdonell dogulas (now Boeing) Long Beach plant actually laid off line workers and engineers the very same day the orders was placed. Why? Because of the defense-industry money problems that have been with us the last 13 years.

Again, the cutbacks were bipartisan...I'm not blaming administrations necesariy here. But this is certainly not a case of evil (nonexistent) Bush military cuts...

spaceCADETzoom said...

Also, to make my comment clearer...the 1990's cutbacks were much easier to deal with in the globocop world. Launch a few crusie missles, have soldiers stand around as peace-keepers, no one much notices if they're getting funding cutbacks. BUt the 90s cutbacks hurt in today's war on terror, with a centralized deployment like Iraq. We got away with the post-cold war cuts militarily (it still hurt us economically...only the dotcom fad kept us up in the 90s), but it's hurting us both ecnonomically and militarily now.

Or maybe you agree with the idea that it was Clinton that built today's military?

BTW, for the purpose of this discussion, I've never meant to discredit Kerry or applaud BUsh (or even CLinton). I'm just not buying the "bush is killing the military because he cut spending on it" argument. Spending has gone up...but missions have changed. Spending can go up more...