Why Now?
Sunday, January 15, 2006
  Support The Troops - Part II
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
- attributed to George S. Patton
Back in December of 2003 Jonathan Turley wrote a column in USA Today about troops being deployed to Iraq without proper body armor. Nor was that a lone voice in the wilderness as many others were pointing out this problem.

In response to this there were assurances that the problem was being dealt with, and it was a short-term problem that would be corrected.

Well two years have passed and there is still a problem supplying body armor to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the same people are still saying they are dealing with the problem. This time they are talking about a new protective feature to avoid talking about the fact that they haven't managed to fix the ongoing problem.

Terry caught another element in the debate in a Andrew Exum column in the New York Times: the troops don't want the better armor.

The complaints about the armor are familiar, but they failed to include that it is hot to wear, and, a choice bit from negotiating to have agencies pay for body armor for law enforcement, it makes people reckless.

One of the benefits of being from a long line of veterans is that you can compare the progress in uniforms and equipment. The stuff my Dad had in World War II was much lighter and more comfortable than the stuff my Grandfather had in the trenches of World War I. The stuff I had in Southeast Asia was another leap forward from what my Dad had in Korea. If you really want to understand how far things have come, drop by a re-enactors Civil War camp.

People, especially those who have proven themselves in combat, are very expensive to replace. All of the best training in the world will never be exactly the same as when an enemy is really, truly trying to kill you, and you know it. You can't replicate that situation. You don't want to lose people. While some like Rumsfeld may believe that military personnel are fungible, they aren't. Every death and major injury in a combat zone is the loss not simply of a "unit of production", but of the unique knowledge and abilities that individual possessed. In the current "all volunteer military" we don't have the depth to replace that person. The capabilities of the unit have been altered, and rarely for the better.

The incompetence of these people to supply the troops in combat the equipment that is required is destroying our capacity to defend the nation. We can't realistically deal with North Korea and other real threats because of the blunders of the current Department of Defense.


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