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Preparing For War - Part 3

Preparing For War Part 3

FORT IRWIN, Ca. - Today's military is not ready for modern combat, and it's due to a combination of a lack of training and old or broken equipment.

That's the message repeated over and over from Washington to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, where soldiers from Fort Carson recently spent three long weeks.

General Robert Abrams of U.S. Army Forces Command comes to the NTC once a month to observe the operation.

"My purpose in life is to deliver trained and ready forces in support of combatant commanders," he said.

But getting his troops the training they need on the equipment they need is more challenging than ever.

Abrams and Colonel Curtis D. Taylor, the commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, say it comes down to funding.

"I would say the biggest thing we're dealing with, is predictable funding," says Curtis.

"It's not the dollar amount," explained Abrams, "it's having reliable funding."

Ever since the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress has yet to pass a spending bill for the Army.

Instead, only short-term allowances known as "continuing resolutions" have kept the army going.

"The 'continuing resolution' is the biggest impact on our inability to meet our readiness objectives," says Abrams.

The impact is less troops to train or less working equipment.

Command Seargeant Major Chad Brown believes aging equipment can lead to big problems in battle.

"You think about a vehicle that stalls and can't restart just before an attack.  You think about a radio system that can't call back to say the enemy is coming.  And all those are monetary-related things.  And with a force that's been fighting for 15 years, there's a lot of things that are wore down and wore out," says Brown.

Most of the military uses equipment either designed or built decades ago.

The first M1 Abrams tank went into service in 1980.  It was named for Creighton Abrams, the former Army Chief of Staff, and the father of General Robert Abrams.

The first Stryker rolled off the assembly line in 2002.

The Blackhawk was born in 1979.

The first M4 rifle was distributed in 1994.

Even the newest Howitzer was adopted in 2005.

Worst of all, while our military is stagnant, other countries like Russia, China, and North Korea continue to expand.

That was the troubling message from the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to Congress last month.

"I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect.  Four years later, I returned to the department.  I am shocked by what I've seen about our readiness to fight," said Secretary James Mattis.

"The competitive advantage that our military has long enjoyed, is eroding," added General Joseph Dunford.

"The threat is growing," says Colonel Taylor, "and we have to be more and more serious about the investment we make in the readiness of our forces."

"I think we need a shot in the arm, if you will, to get us to the next level, so that we can be 100% ready," said Brown.

"We have a ways to go," concluded Abrams.


According to the Army's vice chief of staff earlier this year, one thing that has helped to increase readiness is the integration of women into roles previously reserved for men only.  Find out how they are performing in the final part of our special report on Thursday at 5 and 10 on KRDO Newschannel 13.

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