The President has called up 2,500 inactive Marine reservists for involuntary duty to make up for manpower shortages. Even though many Marines have already served three tours in Iraq, the Marine Corps came up 1,200 volunteers short of its requirements. Defense commentator Fred Kagan from the conservative American Enterprise Institute put it bluntly:
It is one of an avalanche of symptoms that the ground forces are overstretched by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. … This administration needs to understand this is not a short-term problem, and it really needs a systemic fix in the size of the ground forces.
But the Marines are not just short manpower. A report released today by the Center for American Progress shows that the war in Iraq is increasingly taking its toll on the equipment of the Marine Corps. Vehicles like the Humvee and M1A1 tanks built to last for 15 years or more are wearing out in less than five. The cost to replace and repair the equipment damaged and destroyed is enormous – more than $5 billion a year.
To make up for the equipment shortfalls, the Marines have been taking equipment from units outside of Iraq and from their strategic reserves. Unable to train with the equipment that they will be using in combat, the readiness of Marine Corps units outside of Iraq are suffering.