Troops Die, Because They Were Not Equipped For Combat
by James Glaser
For months we were shipping supplies over to Kuwait staging areas getting ready for our attack on Iraq. We actually were getting ready for this war for over a decade, but we still weren't ready before we attacked.
President Bush has claimed that record federal deficits were in part because he insisted that US Soldiers have the resources they need. Bush said, "My attitude is, any time we put one of our soldiers in harm's way, we're going to spend whatever is necessary to make sure they have the best training, the best support, and the best possible equipment."
Like so many other times, the President was lying to the American public when he said these words.
Yesterday I wrote about how Rocket Propelled Grenades tear large chunks out of Soldiers and about those troops wearing body armor. I received e-mails from several people directing me to an article by Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington Law School. Turley wrote an Editorial for the LA Times about how parents of our Soldiers and Marines in Iraq were forced to buy body armor for their sons and daughters.
The "best" equipment that President Bush could get for many of our troops was Vietnam War flak jackets. I wore a flak jacket for over a year in the Nam and can tell you that they are hot, heavy, and they will not stop a bullet.
President Bush might think these jackets are "good enough" for our troops, but then Bush never did go to war, has no idea of what a real war is, nor what it is to see a Marine cut to pieces.
Professor Turley writes about one of his students, Army Spc. Richard Murphy. Murphy and his comrades in arms must wear those old flak jackets and drive around in unarmored Humvees, which are vulnerable to even small arms fire.
Remember, not only has President Bush claimed he is spending money to buy the "best equipment," he continues to spend over a billion dollars on our troops every week. Who gets that money and what are they spending it on?
Turley gives an example of what Bush is doing. The Air Force made a deal with Boeing to lease airplane tankers for billions of dollars more than they could buy them for. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Air Force will pay almost 6 billion more on this lease than they would have paid to buy the tankers.
So what are we talking about for the cost of body armor for our troops? At retail prices, like the parents of Soldiers and Marines are paying, 97 million dollars would get the best for 150,000 troops. We spend more than ten times that every week in Iraq.
Turley writes about this body armor, "They can mean the difference between living and dying, which was made all too clear to Sgt. Zachariah Byrd, a soldier with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, who was shot four times with a AK-47 bullets (twice in the chest and twice in his arms) when his unit was ambushed. The vest protected his chest and he survived." Byrd started the day with the old style flak jacket, his buddy gave him his new Interceptor vest- a passing kindness that saved Byrd's life.
Congress has been told of this problem as has the President. They all talk about supporting the troops, but the troops still do not have the equipment they need. One mother told Congress about how three soldiers in her son's unit were killed while wearing the outmoded vests. Her son's unit only had 30 modern vests for 120 men.
General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed last week that it would not be until December before there was enough armor for all the troops in Iraq.
Suzanne Werfelman, a mother and a teacher had to go out and pay $650.00 to buy body armor for her son, who is fighting in George Bush's War. Workers at one armor company she called said that they had been deluged with calls from parents trying to buy vests and the armored plates that go in them, for their sons and daughters overseas.
There is much talk about how the Pentagon wasn't ready for post combat Iraq and now we find out they were not ready for the start of the war. Hundreds of our Soldiers and Marines have been killed. No one knows how many may have been saved with good equipment, but some one should be held responsible for those deaths.
President Bush did not sent our troops to fight his war with the best equipment. To save money President Bush sent Americans to war with equipment that was not the best like he claimed. .President Bush lied to the troops, their parents, and to the American people.
George can pass the "buck" and he probably will. He might say he didn't know or that some one else was to blame, but a real man would take responsibility and apologize to those parents and loved ones, who lost some one fighting in his war.
BACK to the Politics Columns.