9/29/2005

Soldiers still waiting for armor reimbursements - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.com

Tax cuts for the rich, the shaft for the men who defend our country with their lives... Niiice job Bushies! Who hates the military again ? -- law

Pentagon fails to figure out how to pay back troops' personal expenditures

WASHINGTON - Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon has still failed to figure out a way to reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq.

Soldiers and their parents are still spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for armor they say the military won’t provide. One U.S. senator said Wednesday he will try again to force the Pentagon to obey the reimbursement law it opposed from the outset and has so far not implemented.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he will offer amendments to the defense appropriations bill working its way through Congress, to take the funding issue out of the hands of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and give control to military unit commanders in the field.

“Rumsfeld is violating the law,” Dodd said in an interview with The Associated Press. “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.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke said the department “is in the final stages of putting a reimbursement program together and it is expected to be operating soon.” But defense officials would not discuss the reason for the delay.

Krenke said the Pentagon’s first priority is to ensure that soldiers “have all they need to fight and win this nation’s wars.”

Others don’t see it that way.

'Not good enough'
“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.”


Soldiers still waiting for armor reimbursements - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.com

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