Some U.S. military vehicle and equipment makers with goods destined for Iraqi forces are apparently having production issues, according to Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
Levin, who briefed reporters Aug. 20 by telephone from Tel Aviv, Israel, said he could not recall details but said that he believes problems revolve mostly around production capability and may include paperwork issues as well. Levin further said Defense Secretary Robert Gates has tasked Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England to clear up the matter.
In a joint statement with Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), the former SASC chairman, the senators said they were recently informed of problems "within our own United States bureaucracy" that are "hindering the delivery of badly needed military equipment" for Iraqi forces purchased with Iraqi funds through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
"We will be looking into that problem and urge the secretaries of Defense and State to take immediate action to cut through the red tape that is delaying those purchases," Levin and Warner said.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency has announced several Iraqi-funded FMS deals, including one for hundreds of vehicles that would support Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki's initiative to train and equip additional Iraqi soldiers to accelerate the transition of combat operations there from coalition forces (DAILY, Dec. 22, 2006).
The December deal entailed 522 Humvees or 276 infantry light-armored vehicles; eight heavy tracked recovery vehicles - either Brem-tracked recovery and repair or M578 Recovery Vehicles; six 40-ton trailer Lowboys - either M871 or commercial; and 66 eight-ton cargo heavy trucks, either M900 series, M35 series or MK23 medium tactical vehicles, or commercial medium trucks.
Meanwhile, Levin and Warner practically declared no confidence in al-Malaki's administration and suggested the Iraqi parliament elect a new leader. Indeed, Levin further said the prime minister has achieved "little or nothing."
In the joint statement they said that while the ongoing surge of U.S. forces there has "produced tangible results" in bringing greater security to some areas of the capital, they also "witnessed a great deal of apprehension regarding the capabilities of the current Iraqi government to shed its sectarian biases and act in a unifying manner."