Friday, February 02, 2007

Statistics and Other Tidbits

The Federal budget for Fiscal Year 2008 will go to Congress and the public Monday.

To get acclimatized, today’s entry will recap odds and ends in the news.

Item: A January 26, 2007 unreleased Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said the Pentagon has failed to “adequately track” equipment shortages in the National Guard that degrade the Guard’s capability to react to natural disasters. Why? Because Guard units deploying to Iraq take the best equipment with them – and not all of it comes back or comes back in usable condition.

Item: On January 31, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau told the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves that the Army and Air Guard needed $40 billion to return their equipment to “acceptable” readiness standards – i.e., 80% of equipment on hand and operational. Nearly 90% of Guard units in the U.S. have on average only 40 % of their equipment

Item: The Afghan army took possession of 800 HMMVEEs and trucks and 12,000 weapons on February 1. The White House is asking for $8.6 billion more for the Afghan army and police.

Item: When Iraqis were told that failure to meet commitments for reinforcing their security units in Baghdad could lead Congress or the Pentagon to hold back on equipment deliveries, the Americans were flabbergasted when the Iraqis replied they would simply go elsewhere to get what they needed.

Item: The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 21,500 combat troops the President is sending to Iraq will, in the end, actually be somewhere between 35,000 and 48,000. What the President forgot to say was that for each 4,000 combat troops, the Pentagon has been sending another 5,500 support troops. If the Pentagon skimps by doubling up on some functions for the “surge,” it might get by with only 3,000 support troops for every 4,000 fighters – hence the 35,000 figure.

Item: Suicides in 2006 among Army troops in Iraq remained at the same high level as in 2005 – 19.9 per 100,000. Seventeen other deaths in Iraq in 2006 are still under investigation.

Item: A report detailing anti-U.S. activities by Iranians in Iraq, first due out Tuesday and then today, reportedly was returned to its authors in the intelligence community because of disagreements over the validity of some “evidence.” The White House wanted unanimity, which it didn’t get.

Item: The unclassified version of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq did come out today. Despite the public relations spin, it was bad news in that it didn’t even offer a convincing rationale for how 21,500 more combat troops (and as many as 27,000 support personnel) will have any lasting effect.

Item: The 2007 Supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, also due out Monday, will request at least $100 billion. That is in addition to the $70 billion already approved for the war for 2007. With war funding rolled into the regular Pentagon spending bill, the 2008 funding request (not including nuclear weapons programs) is expected to exceed $650 billion.

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