The Inspector General found that the Pentagon hasn't been able to properly equip the soldiers it already has. Many have gone without enough guns, ammunition, and other necessary supplies to "effectively complete their missions" and have had to cancel or postpone some assignments while waiting for the proper gear, according to the report from auditors with the Defense Dept. Inspector General's office. Soldiers have also found themselves short on body armor, armored vehicles, and communications equipment, among other things, auditors found.
"As a result, service members performed missions without the proper equipment, used informal procedures to obtain equipment and sustainment support, and canceled or postponed missions while waiting to receive equipment," reads the executive summary dated Jan. 25. Service members often borrowed or traded with each other to get the needed supplies, according to the summary.
Pentagon officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
The audit supports news reports and other evidence that U.S. troops have been stretched too thin or have performed tasks for which they were ill-prepared. It is likely to add fuel to the opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq in an effort to quell the violence there.
The report goes on to fault Centcom for lacking standard procedures for handling requests and tracking requirements, but hey, we're getting a new Centcom Commander. Spencer Ackerman isn't impressed. From Too Hot For TNR:
I'm working on a quick piece on this right now, so more later, but I just got back from Admiral Bill Fallon's hearing to head Central Command, and I've never heard a military officer testify for nearly four hours and fail to exhibit an understanding of even one issue he's about to grapple with. Anyway, as they say, more TK.
Even when thrown a softball by Lindsey Graham about the surge, Fallon deferred to answering at a later date after he was up to speed on the region. Fallon claims he has been busy with his job as Pacific Commander so he "tried to stay away from the detail of Central Command until such time as I might be confirmed, then I intend to dive into it." Now might be the time.
So, why are we installing a Navy man as the commander of a region where we are embroiled in two ground wars? Secretary of Defence Robert Gates addresses that issue in today's Washington Post. From the Post:
"The reality is, if you look at the Centcom area of responsibility, there's a lot of water there," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters Friday, when asked why he recommended Fallon. "And as you look at the range of options available to the United States, the use of naval and air power, potentially, it made sense to me for all those reasons for Admiral Fallon to have the job."
Pirates? Or Iran and the Straights of Hormuz? You decide.
Portions found via TPM and Kevin Drum