NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 29, 2006

About $2 billion worth of Army and Marine Corps equipment -- from rifles to tanks -- is wearing out or being destroyed every month in Iraq and Afghanistan, military leaders and outside experts say.


  • The Pentagon said it had issued more than $1.7 billion in equipment repair and replacement contracts during November alone.
  • This summer, the leaders of the Army and Marine Corps said their services rack up a combined $23 billion a year in repair costs.
  • Overall, the Pentagon needs $50 billion to $60 billion to re-equip and restore units returning from Iraq.

One of the main reasons is that vehicles and other equipment are far more complex now than they were in previous conflicts such as Vietnam, making repairs and replacements even more expensive.  According to the Congressional Research Service:

  • The entire Vietnam War cost an estimated $650 billion in today's money.
  • The global war on terrorism, including the conflict in Iraq, has already cost more than $500 billion.

Overall, the wear and tear may lead to future equipment shortages and cutbacks in more advanced weapons, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter being developed with allies around the world and the Army's new, high-tech family of weapons and equipment, says William Cohen, secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001.

Source: Matt Kelley, "Wars wearing down military gear at cost of about $2 billion a month," USA Today, November 29, 2006.


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