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U.S. Army Going Bankrupt

Iraq war costing America $1.75 billion per week

By Mike Blair

With the U.S. Army spending $266 million every day—a whopping $8 billion a month—to fight a guerrilla war in Iraq, it is now having to “rob Peter to pay Paul” to the point where it is facing a shortfall of $530 million to pay salaries, purchase supplies and fund vital services and repairs. In other words, the Army is broke.

The situation has become so critical that Fort Sam Houston in Texas has received cut-off notices of its electrical services from local public utilities because it has not paid its bills. The companies have decided, however, that since it involves national defense they will not pull the plug.

As of today, a total of 119 Army facilities in the United States and overseas have received orders to lay off civilian employees, to forego new contracts, to take away cell phones and not to use military vehicles.

Even Fort Bragg in North Carolina, one of the Army’s most important bases, has not been immune from the cuts. Officials there have been told to reduce the amount it costs to run the military post from $1 million a day to $191,000 a day—an incredible drop of some 80%.

At Fort Belvoir in Virginia, there is a budget shortfall of $2.7 million, resulting in the closure of an education center and the deferral of repairs to highways that had been washed out by recent heavy rains.

“We’re at war,” a spokesman for the Army’s Installation Management Agency explained. “That’s the first, middle and last of it.” He further said that spiraling oil and gas prices and unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates have also aggravated the situation.

The situation was even worse before Congress approved a supplemental spending bill in June, which provided $722 million for the Army. Before that money was received, the Army’s shortfall had been fast approaching $13 billion.

The half billion dollars that the Army is in the hole is a lot of money. However, to put things in perspective, that sum would only fund two days of operations in Iraq—a good indication of just how much the war is costing America. This figure does not include the cost of the injured and the loss of life to Americans as a result of the war.

“The bottom line is that the U.S. Army is flat broke and no one knows what to do about it,” a civilian management official at a Virginia Army base told AFP.

(Issue #32, August 7, 2006)

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Updated July 29, 2006