Coming on the heels of NPR's compelling investigation, McClatchy Washington Bureau reporters Kevin G. Hall and David Montgomery deliver a significant piece today. Sharing a few grafs, but suggest taking the time to read it in full:
At Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, swimming pools closed a month early this fall, and shuttle vans were sharply curtailed in an effort to trim spending. At Fort Sam Houston in Texas, unpaid utility bills exceeded $4 million, and the base reduced mail delivery to cut costs. Belt-tightening at the bases is only the beginning. As the United States spends about $8 billion a month in Iraq, the military is being forced to cut costs in ways big and small.
Soldiers preparing to ship to Iraq don't have enough equipment to train on because it's been left in Iraq, where it's most needed. Thousands of tanks and other vehicles sit at repair depots waiting to be fixed because funds are short.
At the Red River Army Depot in Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in October that at least 6,200 Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, trucks and ambulances were awaiting repair because of insufficient funds. ... Tanks and helicopters are one thing; the toll on America's warriors and their families is another.
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The figure don't look much better for the military's human capital:
More than 73,000 soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and with problems such as drug abuse and depression. That's enough people to fill a typical NFL stadium.
Internet blogs written by soldiers or their wives tell of suicide attempts by soldiers haunted by the horror of combat, civilian careers of reservists who've been harmed by deployment and redeployment, and marriages broken by distance and the trauma of war. "Back-to-back war deployments has changed both of us - to where it's as if a marriage does not exist anymore," wrote a woman calling herself Blackhawk wife on an Iraq war vets Web site. "We just go through the daily steps of life and raising children as best we can."
A mother of a returning soldier posted this: "Since he has been back, he has had 3 DUIs, wrecked his truck, attempted suicide, been diagnosed with PTSD" and is being kicked out of the Army. The length of the war in Iraq has strained all aspects of the armed forces, said Dov Zakheim, who was the Pentagon's chief financial officer from 2001 to 2004. "In 2003, I don't think anybody predicted it would go as long as World War II and the wear and tear on equipment would be as intense," said Zakheim, now a vice president for global strategy consultant Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. "When I left the department, we were spending less than $4 billion a month on Iraq. Now it's pretty much doubled."
The length of the Iraq war surpassed that of World War II last month. The costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global fight against terrorism are expected to surpass the $536 billion in inflation-adjusted costs of the Vietnam War by spring. That's more than 10 times the Bush administration's $50 million prewar estimate.