WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The former U.S. commander in Iraq issued an urgent plea to the Pentagon last winter for supplies, saying he was "unable to sustain readiness."
In a memo obtained by the Washington Post, Army Lt.-Gen. Ricardo Sanchez wrote: "I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with (supply) rates this low."
Sanchez, who was the senior commander on the ground in Iraq from the summer of 2003 until this summer, said in his letter that Army units in Iraq were "struggling just to maintain ... relatively low readiness rates" on combat systems, such as M-1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, anti-mortar radars and Black Hawk helicopters.
There were 131,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the time.
Senior Army officials said most of Sanchez' concerns have since been addressed, but that they continue to keep a close eye on the problems he identified. The situation is "substantially better" now, said Gary Motsek, deputy director of operations for the Army Materiel Command.