Topic: New Army kit
Member # 107
posted 31 August 2021 10:42
This is topical inasmuch as it parallels somewhat the Canadian effort to re-equip our soldiers with modern kit.
Admittedly, there's an American election campaign heating up, and one of the Vice-Presidential candidates is a former Secretary of Defence (and thus knows where the skeletons are) - nevertheless, it's noteworthy to compare their experience vis-a-vis obtaining new kit for the individual soldier. Note the reference to lobbyists, for example, and the issue of Lockheed "expenses" ...
Also, it mentions the US Marines are issuing an item at the rate of 3,500 per month and it will take three years to complete the issue (sadly, it would take only a few months up here at that rate, due to the pitifully small size of our military).
This is interesting ... (however, it's important to keep in mind that there's a Presidential election campaign down there, and one of the Vice-Presidential candidates is a former Secretary of Defence ...)
(from the San Diego Union Tribune)
Despite billions for defense, lowly GIs get obsolete gear
By David Wood NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
August 30, 2021 FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Staff Sgt. Andrew Laskoski is still waiting. And infantry sergeants are not known for graceful patience.
Laskoski is one of tens of thousands of American troops waiting for the Army and Marine Corps to make good on their intention to replace the frayed, patched and obsolete soldiering gear with a new generation of modern, lightweight equipment.
Almost two years ago, Laskoski -- then a platoon sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division -- paused during combat maneuvers in the jungle of Panama to explain how beat-up old stuff was hampering operations. He'd heard that new lightweight gear -- including body armor and combat harnesses -- was on its way.
In a recent interview, Laskoski confirmed his worst suspicions. "The regular 'grunts' still aren't getting the new stuff," he said.
"I just love this institution, and I don't want to bad-mouth it," said Laskoski, who is an advanced infantry instructor at the Army's Light Fighter School. "But there are some bad things going on. Too much spending money on glitter. Not enough on what (GI) Joe needs."
In the most powerful military force on Earth, serving the richest nation in history, many soldiers are using hand-me-down gear so ancient that it's actually on display at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Ga., along with swords and suits of armor.
Some soldiers, despairing of ever getting the new gear, buy their own. This is not a simple issue of not enough money in the defense budget.
Rather, experts say, it illustrates how the defense budget already is so contorted by political pressures and irrational fiscal burdens that it produces results which defy common sense.
"It's a very basic issue of the culture of the Pentagon and the influence of the military-industrial complex, and don't forget congressional pork-barreling," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.
"Readiness is always the poor cousin, and people who are endangering their lives out there aren't getting what they need. But readiness is always an excuse for spending more money and, when we do, the people out there still don't get what they need."
Congress just appropriated $287.8 billion for the Pentagon to spend in fiscal year 2001, which begins Oct. 1.
It includes $3.9 billion for 10 F-22 fighters, $2 billion for a new submarine, even $5 million for armored limousines for the top brass to ride around in.
There is enough money to float the annual compensation for the top executive and directors of Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest defense contractor. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vance Coffman took home $1.4 million last year; members of the board of directors were each paid $60,000 cash and $60,000 worth of stock. Lockheed apportions these costs to the Pentagon indirectly as contract "overhead" costs.
No body armor
But there is not enough money in the defense budget to purchase new body armor for soldiers and Marines whose job it is to be where people are shooting back.
The new lightweight armored vests, unlike the current model, will stop a 9 mm round. The Army developed them several years ago. They cost $500 each. It will take the Army seven years to get a new one to each of its soldiers. Most soldiers on active duty today will be gone from the Army before the new gear arrives.
Same goes for new tactical vests. At present, most soldiers and Marines wear a World War II-style web harness and belt from which they hang canteens, ammo, first-aid pouches and other necessities. Army developers came up with a new integrated system that includes a thin lightweight harness, rucksack and water bladder carried on the back. A trooper can sip water through a tube over his shoulder without taking his eye off his target. Most troops still have to buy their own water bladder, called a Camelbak on the civilian market.
The Army will begin issuing the new gear, called MOLLE (for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment), sometime between March and September of next year. Each unit costs about $400. It will be 2008 before every soldier has one.
The Marines started issuing MOLLE gear just over a year ago, at a rate of 3,500 a month. It will take three years to outfit every Marine, said Marine Capt. Skip Church, who directs the program.
Matter of money
Jack Sweeney, president of Specialty Defense Systems, which makes the MOLLE gear, confirmed that his company could make more MOLLE sets if the money were available. The same problem affects the issue of lightweight helmets, new lightweight combat boots, tents and other essential gear.
Lightweight, rugged tents arrived on the civilian outdoor market two or three decades ago but are still not common in the military, which relies on ponchos or the two-piece, button-up-the-middle pup tent. Sometimes not even these crude shelters are available. In a combat exercise in the California desert last spring, Marines slept huddled on the open ground in 40-degree, windy weather.
The Marines have started issuing rugged new waterproof and lightweight boots of the type available to civilians for a decade. The Army soon will issue them to new recruits. All other soldiers will have to buy their own, at about $90 a pair, with an annual clothing allowance of $255.60 that is also supposed to replace fatigues, dress uniforms, caps, rucksacks and other gear that wears out.
The military services themselves are part of the problem. In 1998, the Army simply lost almost a billion dollars worth of gear, according to a report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO detailed $900 million the Army couldn't account for after the equipment was shipped from one place to another.
One Pentagon financial investigator said it is increasingly difficult to match invoices to payments. "We found accounting so bad one guy was paying big checks to his mother and girlfriend, a million dollars worth, and nothing had been bought or received at all," said Ernest Fitzgerald, management systems deputy for the Air Force. Fitzgerald was astonished to be informed by a Pentagon accountant that expenditures of under $100,000 are called "budget dust," not worth any detailed record-keeping.
Another problem is that troops have no champion, no lobbyist in Washington to watch out for their interests at budget time. Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-22 fighter among dozens of other weapons systems, employs 26 lobbyists in Washington and has a stable of 28 private lobbying firms to guide its programs safely through Congress. Its lobbying operations cost $5.9 million in 1998, according to the most recent data published by the Federal Election Commission. In this election cycle, Lockheed Martin has donated $734,000 to candidates for Congress, according to FEC data.
Contractors such as Specialty Defense Systems -- maker of the MOLLE system -- have no Washington lobbyists, its president acknowledged. Without lobbyists or bureaucrats to guide their programs through the budget maze, program managers such as Marine Capt. Church can only watch helplessly as their cherished programs for grunts fall victim to budget politics.
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Posts: 207 | From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jun 2000
Member # 39
posted 01 September 2021 12:48
Ok, maybe it was civvies doing the "bongo" things but it all comes out of the same pot of money. I do have confirmation of a group hug in St Jean that involved soldiers from pte to LGen that included painting pictures on a large mural in order to get a collective representation of each ranks feelings on change in the military.
The contracting out of a large portion of support services has been done to ease the burden on CSS soldiers who were deploying at a disproportional rate to their effective strength. IT WAS NOT DONE TO SAVE MONEY AS IT WILL COST MORE THEN IF SOLDIERS WERE DOING IT. I support it as all the other miitaries use civilian agencies to support their operations. Bosnia is now a "mature" theatre of operations and the threat is fairly low, the civilians are subject to the code of service discipline and have to abide by our rules (ie walking out policy). Moreover, as there is alot of money involved, ATCO FRONTEC will be doing all it can to make it a success. The problem has been ATCO Frontec have hired military people away to take civilian contracts. Go figure.
Under the new system that was implemented within the last month, the monthly bonus for going overseas (for Roto 7) for a first time deployment will be
Foreign Service Allowance $370
Hardship bonus and risk assessment approx $540
Separation allowance $120 (US) - $180 (CA)
Approx $1100 Tax Free/month
Not as much as previous rotations but .....
Posts: 95 | From: Army of the West | Registered: Jun 2000
Member # 60
posted 03 September 2021 23:36
The thing that disturbs me the most regarding the employment of Civvies, is that when the s**t hits the fan there is no contingency for the safety or care of the civilian population. Op Abacus is a prime example. Several civilian contractors that were required to be present at the 'roll-over' 2000 were advised that while they were indeed under the Code of Service Discipline and they were employed by the DND, they were not entitled to bring their families onto any base for safe housing or care of any kind. Amazing the absenteeism that occurred during the 3 days prior to and the 3 days after 01 Jan/2000 by the civilians.
I do not condone the use of Civvies for all tasks on Bases or Schools but if you are going to employ them...look after them!
I don't know why I have any expectations of care for civvies, the brass don't look after the Troops so why would they do it for anyone else?
By the way, the latest name for the Clothe the Soldier Program has changed to Tease the Soldier :-)
All the Best
Dileas Gu Brath
Posts: 44 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000