I got a long call from my son in Iraq last night. We talked about a lot of things and had a really good visit. I always feel better after we've been able to talk. He's (rightfully) spending more effort talking to his fiancé' right now, so I get fewer calls than on his last tour.
One thing that came up in conversation was maintenance of vehicles. He said it is becoming a real problem keeping things running. Quite simply, things are wearing out because of the extremely heavy usage they get. When his unit relieved the previous force, a lot of the equipment turned over to them was in rough shape. He said they were gaining on the problem, but it is a real issue.
Today, in the Washington Post there's an article about this very subject. It seems the military is reporting that maintenance is costing much more than was predicted.
Defense officials and budget analysts point to a simple, unavoidable driver of the escalating costs. The cost of repairing and replacing equipment and developing new war-fighting material has exploded. In the first year of the invasion, such costs totaled $2.4 billion, then rose to $5.2 billion in 2004. This year, they will hit $26 billion, and could go as high as $30 billion, Kosiak said. On the other hand, at about $15 billion, personnel costs will drop 14 percent this year.
Get that? Personnel costs are dropping, maintenance costs are skyrocketing. Conditions over there are very harsh on vehicles and equipment. Heavy usage is another factor. American war-waging practice differs from a lot of other countries. We would rather sacrifice material and equipment than lives.
Congress must not play politics with spending bills. Regardless of where you stand on the war issue, refusing or delaying funding will lead to maintenance breakdown. That will in turn lead to loss of lives. That would be abandoning fellow citizens in a time of war.
I swear, I will actively campaign against any member of congress who balks at supporting the troops. I'll cheerfully raise money for anyone who opposes them in the elections.