December 5, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Military equipment wearing out

Every day we see fresh evidence that our military personnel are under growing strain after repeated combat tours in Iraq, but the problem extends to the equipment side as well. Today's Washington Post describes the massive backlog of over a thousand damaged M-1 Abrams tanks, M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and other equipment that is waiting to be repaired at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama. An estimated $17 billion worth of Army and Marine equipment is lost each year, including pieces that are blown up or just worn out. The net result of all the battle losses (including IED blasts) is that many American ground units are rated as not ready for combat. This means that the United States is hamstrung in its ability to project force in various global crisis spots, such as the Korean peninsula. It's one more manifestation of the phenomenon of "imperial overstretch," the term coined by historian Paul Kennedy, when a great power is at the point of exhaustion and can no longer sustain the effort to stabilize regions beyond its own borders.

Battle of Moscow

It was sixty five years ago today (1941) that the Red Army began a massive counteroffensive that pushed the Germans back from the gates of Moscow. German tanks and artillery pieces were totally worn out after pushing several hundred miles across the Russian plains in the blitzkrieg, and most of them simply broke down in the subzero temperatures that winter. The Germans were lucky they were able to stabilize the front and resume their offensive in 1942.