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B.Y.O. Body Armor
Not only were the troops forced to supply their own body armor (beats dying!), Mr. Rumsfield is apparently too busy running around blathering about how wonderfully the war is going to reimburse the soldiers and their families. Here's an excerpt from an AP story by Lolita C. Baldor:

"Your expectation is that when you are sent to war, that our government does everything they can do to protect the lives of our people, and anything less than that is not good enough," said a former Marine who spent nearly $1,000 two weeks ago to buy lower-body armor for his son, a Marine serving in Fallujah.

The father asked that he be identified only by his first name - Gordon - because he is afraid of retribution against his son.

"I wouldn't have cared if it cost us $10,000 to protect our son, I would do it," said Gordon. "But I think the U.S. has an obligation to make sure they have this equipment and to reimburse for it. I just don't support Donald Rumsfeld's idea of going to war with what you have, not what you want. You go to war prepared, and you don't go to war until you are prepared."

Under the law passed by Congress last October, the Defense Department had until Feb. 25 to develop regulations for the reimbursement, which is limited to $1,100 per item. Pentagon officials opposed the reimbursement idea, calling it "an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DOD with an open-ended financial burden."

In a letter to Dodd in late April, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel, said his office was developing regulations to implement the reimbursement, and would be done in about 60 days.

Soldiers and their families have reported buying everything from higher-quality protective gear to armor for their Humvees, medical supplies and even global positioning devices.

"The bottom line is that Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department are failing soldiers again," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for Iraq veterans.

How odd that Bush found it within himself to hop a plane to "save" Terry Schiavo, but he hasn't been able to get motivated to stop clearing brush and start clearing some checks for the troops. Of course, it would have been nice if the government had provided the body armor to begin with. "Support our troops!" (With what, lip service? That'll dodge you a bullet or two.)

Posted by aalkon at September 29, 2005 10:51 AM

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Oh shit, another thing to worry about. My sister has never mentioned being short on any equipment. Either she's "lucky" and has full body armor, etc., or she's just trying to keep us from worrying and not mentioning it. I'm going to ask her specifically the next time I speak w/her.
Nevertheless, no soldier should be without everything he/she needs for full, appropriate protection.

Posted by: Claire at September 29, 2005 1:36 PM

Make sure you ask your Congressman where the appropriations went, instead of to buy equipment for the troops.

Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush have no choice but to use the equipment they can get from Congress. Congress sets up the regulations which produce the testing and other criteria any material must pass before it gets to military service. Ever hear of "Mil Spec" - Military Specification?

Being mad at the White House don't do anything. Especially disappointing to me is the brainless assumption that the Secretary of Defense was going to say, "Well, then, you don't have to go" when he was quizzed about Humvee armor.

Posted by: Radwaste at September 29, 2005 3:08 PM

This article is just another hysterical smear piece. There's more to the story, which can be found here among other places:

"For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is replacing body armor for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. . ."

"The first upgrade installed ceramic protective plates in the vests and was completed in early 2004."

"The heavier weight was one factor that hindered a quicker change, the official said, pointing to concerns that soldiers might not be able to move swiftly in the face of an attack."

This is an interesting article on IEDs:

"There are units that have spent their ENTIRE tour with soft-sided HUMVEES and have had far less IED hits that those in Up-Armored or fully armored vehicles. In fact, they had their doors off. Even today, Rangers and SF run around in bare vehicles and don't get attacked. The reason - the entire convoy was sharp, at the ready, and was able to visually detect IEDS, use aggressive driving to throw off timing of IEDs, and were obviously ready to return fire. They were NOT worth hitting. An up-armored conmoy with everyone's head down and hiding is a much better target. ALL ARMOR CAN BE DEFEATED!!! There have been tanks as well as Strykers and Up-Armored HUMVEES (the M1114's) that have been hit and destroyed. Often (not always), its because they were complacent, they established patterns, they trusted their armor to save them, and otherwise they gave the enemy the means to predict their movements and the comfort (based on lack of alertness) to target them. LESSON LEARNED: If everyone is alert and in th right mindset, you're far less likely to targeted, regardless of armor. Armor has often led to false sense of security."

Posted by: Nash at September 29, 2005 4:38 PM

Part of the problem is that this isn't the style of warfare the military has trained for since the fall of the Soviet Union. This war, like all wars the U.S. has ever fought in, with the possible exception of the Persian Gulf War, has come with a steep learning curve. Tactics change. The enemy adapts. Body armor and vehicle up-armoring wasn't a big deal until you had to conduct SASO (stability and support operations) in an urban environment that was increasingly hostile.

Nash, from what I reason, those tactics that the SF were using probably worked early on, and probably still do work in quieter towns, but in bad-guy-land, that doesn't work, unless you have all of the resources and advantages have that regular units don't. I definitely agree with regards to the mindset, but your attitude won't help you one bit if your HMMWV, M1114 or not, finds itself on top of a 155mm artillery shell.

Back on topic, should the government reimburse these soldiers? Maybe, that's a tough call. First off, it would hardly be one person's fault (i.e. the SecDef), as the military bureaucracy is extremely slow in getting anything done (except, apparently, damage, which it specializes in). This is why it takes so long for ANYTHING to get procured and distributed, even if it is critical. It would be nice to reimburse these soldiers, but I don't want to be paying PVT Joe Snuffy for his brand-new Garmin E-Trex 450 because his parents sprung for a GPS because they were worried he'd get lost. Likewise for lower body armor that may not had been useful if they were riding in an M1114. This is doubly applicable if said PVT was a Fobbit (never left the wire). I would be more inclined to leave the payments only to Guard and Reserve units, as I'm sure they had more difficulty getting fully spun up for the war than active units. Also, administering that sort of thing would be a nightmare, especially in an organization that takes over a year to get all of its vehicles armored while a war is going on.

The biggest mistake made, in my humble opinion, was that this war would be over early and easy. When you go to war, you don't do it lightly. The people fighting this war shouldn't be the only ones sacrificing in order to win it.

Posted by: g*mart at October 5, 2005 11:41 PM

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