WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 2, 2007) - The combination of available money and around-the-clock work is enabling the Army to increase the pace of refurbishment of equipment that's damaged or worn out from service in Afghanistan and Iraq, senior military leaders testified before a joint U.S. House committee on Capitol Hill Jan. 31.
The Army received $17.1 billion from Congress for fixing war-ravaged military equipment for fiscal 2007 and has obligated $11.2 billion of those funds, Brig. Gen. Charles Anderson, the Army's director of force development, said before members of the Readiness and Air and Land Forces subcommittees.
Another $6.5 billion has been obligated for procurement of new equipment, Anderson said, noting that $4.7 billion more has been made available for operational and maintenance needs.
Anderson thanked Congress for providing the funding. Those refit and maintenance dollars are very important to the Army in a time of war when trucks, tanks and helicopters are racking up excessive mileage or flight time and otherwise experiencing hard service during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.
"Tanks today are running at five times the program's rate; trucks, five to six times their program usage, and they are running, as you well know, with heavy armor; helicopters, five to six times their program usage," Anderson said.
However, current refurbishment efforts "will reverse the effects of stress on all our equipment," Anderson said.
About 20,000 pieces of war-ravaged equipment like Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Abrams tanks, artillery pieces and wheeled vehicles were repaired and made ready for continued service in 2005, said Brig. Gen. Robert Radin, who also testified at the hearing. Radin is U.S. Army Materiel Command's deputy chief of staff for logistics and operations.
About 33,000 pieces of Army equipment were repaired in 2006, Radin said, adding that about 47,000 pieces of equipment are slated for refurbishment in 2007. "We've seen a steady build (in the pace of equipment refurbishments) over the years," he said.
Stateside maintenance depots are humming with activity, Radin said. An additional 1,300 employees are being hired to accommodate the increased work, he noted.
The Army term for the equipment refurbishment process is called reset, Anderson said. "Reset is a series of actions to restore a unit to a desired level of combat capability commensurate with future missions," he explained. Reset consists of three components: repair, replace and recapitalize, he said.
Repair starts with an inspection followed by maintenance and possible replacement of some parts to bring equipment to original technical specifications, Anderson said. Replacement "is to buy new," he said, to replace equipment destroyed in battle or otherwise too damaged to fix. Also listed under replacement is reserve-component equipment that's been left overseas for other units to use, he said.
Recapitalizing involves overhauling or restoring equipment to improve performance or make it like new from the factory, Anderson said.
"Reset, in simplest terms, will reverse the effects of stress on all our equipment," Anderson said.
Funding from Congress will be used to reset 24 brigade combat teams involving about 4,000 soldiers and about 40,000 pieces of equipment returning from duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.
Funding provided by Congress "has allowed us to synchronize resources and to increase the velocity and the effectiveness of reset," Anderson told committee members. "For instance, timely funding has allowed the depots to order repair parts in advance of equipment arrival."
Maintenance depots have increased "in workload and capacity," Radin said. And, when required, depot maintenance crews can perform rapid shifting of work from, say, conducting repairs on trucks to tanks, he said.
"In my personal estimate, I think we're about six months ahead of where we were last year in our program and being able to see it, execute, order the repair parts (and) get the repair parts so that they're on hand as the equipment comes in," Radin said.
(Gerry J. Gilmore writes for American Forces Press Service.)