Sunday, December 12, 2004

If You Think About It...

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

Of Armor and Responsibility

Rummy, Rummy, Rummy man! Can't you get anything right?

Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld went on a trip to the Middle East this past week. He was scheduled to appear at Camp Buehring, a base in Kuwait from which troops are rotated into Iraq. You know, one of those PR events where the civilian leader of the military takes questions from rank and file troops. Usually, this is a carefully choreographed ritual designed to show people back home how very supportive our troops are of our leaders. Except it didn't quite work out that way.

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, Tennessee National Guard, asked a disturbing question: "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?... We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north." Don't believe him? Read this:

(Tell me what's wrong with this picture: we have the greatest military force in the history of mankind, and our troops have to dig through landfills to collect enough scrap metal to armor the vehicles they are being sent into battle with.)

The other 2,300 or so troops at the "town hall meeting" cheered and applauded the question. The lack of armor on these vehicles was troubling to these soldiers soon to be deployed to Iraq. Soldiers are trained to show respect to their superior officers. To ask such a brazen question is an indication of the desperation these soldiers must feel. They felt they deserved an answer.

The response they got instead was classic Rumsfeldian obfuscation: "It's essentially a matter of physics, not a matter of money. It's a matter of production and the capability of doing it." "As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want." "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and it can [still] be blown up."

Interestingly enough, this was not the first time a soldier had asked Rumsfeld this very question. In Baghdad on May 13, 2004, according to Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers were asked this question: "The new -- (off mike) -- humvees they're bringing over with the -- (inaudible) -- those doors are not as good as the ones on the up-armored humvees -- (inaudible). We even lost quite -- we lost some soldiers due to them, and we're trying to make a change -- (inaudible). The question is, are we going to get more up-armored humvees?"

To which Myers responded, "You do not have all the up-armored humvees you need... Production is ramping up this month... We're trying to get them to you as fast as we can... It's not a matter of resources, it's a matter of how fast can we build these things and get them over here. And I review that probably daily, the status of those machines and that equipment that can help... So we're trying. We're trying hard... I understand exactly everything you said, and we'll do our best. And that's our responsibility." [emphasis mine]

So, let's see, a soldier brings this problem to the attention of Rumsfeld and Myers in May, and in December another soldier has to ask the same question because nothing has been done. That's right, the Army hasn't ordered its supplier of Humvee armor to increase production, despite offers from the company to do just that.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy their excuses. They knew about the situation before May, Myers looks at it every day, a soldier asks them about it in May, promises are made, nothing is done, another soldier in December is forced to repeat the question and gets the same empty promises. Why is the Pentagon giving our soldiers the runaround? It is, as you say, your responsibility.
Of Drafts and Insubordination
But Rumsfeld's public humiliation on Wednesday didn't end there. He was grilled on the recent unpopular "stop-loss" order, which requires some units that have already served in Iraq whose volunteer soldiers could otherwise leave the military when their commitments expire to remain to the end of their overseas deployments and up to another 90 days after they come home.

"Stop-loss" is also known as the "backdoor draft" because soldiers that have already served the time they agreed to are involuntarily forced to remain in the military, many of them in Iraq. This is the perfect way to depress troop morale and scare people away from volunteering for the "Army of One." Little wonder then that military enlistments are down.
Little wonder then that on December 6, eight soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait sued the military challenging the "stop-loss" policy, claiming the enlistment contracts are misleading because don't mention the policy and no one informed them they could be forced to stay beyond their discharge date. "Nothing in the contract that he signed says anything about involuntary enlistment," said Jules Lobel, attorney to one of the soldiers.

Little wonder then that 19 Army reservists refused to go on a mission in Iraq in October, because they would be forced to travel in unarmored trucks. Little wonder then the complaining and grumbling in the ranks of the National Guard and Army Reserve troops (now 40% of our force in Iraq) about how they are given substandard equipment compared to the Army, though both are in a war zone.
Little wonder then that the latest AP poll shows that only 47 percent of Americans think it's likely Iraq can establish a stable democratic government, compared to 55 percent who thought that in April.

Little wonder then that Iraqis can't even recognize the Iraq the administration touts as a success story.

Little wonder then that many in Washington are already beginning to talk seriously about how if the storm clouds of war with Iran, Syria, or North Korea materialize, we will have no choice but to bring back the draft.,,1-3-1397131-3,00.html

Although, somehow I am quite surprised to learn that now our soldiers in Fallujah are having to chase down rabid animals, rather than insurgents. Oh, the glory of war!

Of Treason
"If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can [still] be blown up." Here's something else for Rumsfeld to think about. If you think about it, a secretary of defense and an administration that knowingly send our troops into harm's way without the equipment they need to get their job done and without any apparent concern for their well-being, that refuses offers by manufacturers to provide more protection to our troops, that think it fitting and proper to keep soldiers in our "all-volunteer" armed forces in Iraq long after their enlistments have expired; and a president that encourages our nation's enemies to "bring on" the attacks on our troops--do not these actions constitute a betrayal of the armed servicemen and servicewomen of America? Nay, do they not even constitute treason, defined in the Constitution as "giving aid and comfort to the enemies" of the United States? Really, the only ones who benefit from unarmored or shoddily armored American Humvees in Iraq are the insurgents we are fighting. If so, treason is an impeachable offense under the Constitution, so then should Bush be impeached for all this? Can anyone tell me why not?

If you think about it...