The Pentagon faces a bill of more than $100 billion to repair and replace worn-out or destroyed equipment, the chairman of the House panel that oversees defense spending told USA Today.
Paying for it may endanger plans to boost the size of the military, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and other officials said. The military is scrambling to re-equip because the Pentagon failed to plan for the long and expensive war in Iraq, Murtha told the paper recently.
That failure, he said, makes the Pentagon’s plan to add 92,000 new soldiers and Marines unrealistic. Although new troops would help reduce repeated, lengthy deployments, he told USA Today, there are more pressing demands.
"It’s going to come from personnel cuts," Murtha said. "That’s where it’s going to come from. They know it."
The paper wrote that Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pentagon leaders realize they face a choice between a larger military and improved equipment.
"We must reset, reconstitute and revitalize our ground forces," Mullen told a Senate panel in May. However, the costs "will force us to a smaller military or force us away from any kind of modernization or programs that we need for the future."
Repairs have skyrocketed in recent years, the paper noted. The Army repaired 6,000 rifles and handguns per year before the Iraq war. This year, that number jumped to 200,000, said James Dwyer, with the Army Materiel Command.