9/29/2005

Daily Kos: Rummie Cheats, Endangers Soldiers in Iraq and Katrina Nat'l Guard

Which party proclaims to love the military amid crocodile tear ? -- law

Rummie Cheats, Endangers Soldiers in Iraq and Katrina Nat'l Guard
by SusanHu
Thu Sep 29th, 2005 at 09:04:15 CDT

An angry Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) -- who charges Donald Rumsfeld with breaking the law for failing to comply with bills passed over a year ago -- says he'll offer amendments to the current defense bill that will "reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq." (MSNBC, Sept. 29, 2005)

The families of soldiers in Iraq continue to send them everything from "higher-quality protective gear to armor for their Humvees, medical supplies and even global positioning devices."

Medical supplies? GPS devices?

Dodd's new provisions will "take the funding issue out of the hands of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and give control to military unit commanders in the field."

Meanwhile, national guard units serving in the Gulf states hit by Katrina were plagued by a severe shortage of trucks, bulldozers and communications equipment ...

The head of the National Guard, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, says his chief problem is equipment -- much of it battered from service in Iraq, or stuck in Iraq.

[Blum says that] communications systems in particular were scarce during the Katrina rescue operation, but he adds that he could have used more of almost everything. He filled those gaps through cross-leveling, but "that's a stop-gap solution" that pushed the Guard to the edge of its capabilities. (Christian Science Monitor, via The Seattle Times, Sept. 27, 2005)

The Guard has long received the leftovers but now, given its frontline status in Iraq, it's time to change that. Two senators -- Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) met with Pres. Bush last week to press him for $1.2 billion to replenish the Guard's equipment.

Haven't we been discussing these equipment problems for years now? Is it still "news" to the Bush administration that the prolonged conflict in Iraq -- and the 120-degree heat -- are wreaking havoc on our military's equipment?

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

Rieckhoff's next statement astonishes me:
"It just became an accepted part of the culture. If you were National Guard or Reserve, or NCOs, noncommissioned officers, you were going to spend a lot of money out of your pocket," said Rieckhoff, who was a platoon leader with the 3rd Infantry Division and served in Iraq from the invasion in March 2003 to spring 2004. "These are bureaucratic failures, but when they make mistakes like this, guys die. There has been progress made, but we're still seeing serious shortages."

Adds an infuriated Sen. Dodd:
"Rumsfeld is violating the law ... It's been sitting on the books for over a year. They were opposed to it. It was insulting to them. I'm sorry that's how they felt."


...Medical supplies? GPS devices? Parents still ponying up $1,000 -- and how many parents can afford THAT?! -- to get their kids armor?

Daily Kos: Rummie Cheats, Endangers Soldiers in Iraq and Katrina Nat'l Guard

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