Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Billions for Iraq, Zilch for Body Armor

Phil Carter has been following the controversy engendered by the lack of sufficient Interceptor body armor for the troops in Iraq. Interceptor armor, unlike the older Vietnam era vests, can stop assault rifle bullets and has been proven to save lives in action in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the military doesn't seem to have enough money to buy enough vests for all the soldiers, and some of the troops have been buying civilian body armor with their own funds and having it shipped to them. As Phil points out, this is a ridiculous situation.

When the decision was made to invade Iraq in late 2002, this shortfall could/should have been identified, and dealt with. The blame for that mistake starts with Army logisticians and runs all the way up the chain of command to the E-Ring of the Pentagon and to Congress. The job of logisticians is to anticipate requirements and move resources to the right time and place on the battlefield to influence the fight. Clearly, this requirement was not anticipated, or decisionmakers at various levels decided to ignore this requirement.

As a nation, we have let our soldiers down by sending them into harm's way without this equipment. Our soldiers can make do without a lot of creature-comforts when necessary, but this is absolutely mission-essential equipment that no soldier should have crossed the LD without. What's even worse is that the distribution of this gear has been inequitable thus far, with reservists worse off than active units, and some active units worse off than others. I've received no less than a dozen e-mails from reservists saying they were told they would get this gear only after every active-duty soldier got it. (Query: is there any legitimate distinction between an active-duty soldier and mobilized reservist when you're both deployed to a combat zone?)

What is especially asinine about this penny-wise pound-foolishness is that an Interceptor vest is cheaper than any wound - these vests not only protect our soldiers, they save the government money in the long run!

Just more proof, as if any were needed, that the Administration's claim to love and take care of the troops is a pile of steaming hooey.


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