Saturday, December 18, 2004

Works Every Time 

The problem:
All the official transcripts of White House signing ceremonies for every defense spending bill, all the presidential proclamations for Veterans Day and every prepared statement by the secretary of defense before a congressional committee include the same stock phrase. U.S. troops are invariably referred to as "the best trained, best equipped" ever. Best equipped? To call today's American troops in Iraq the "best equipped" is more than an exaggeration; it is bilge, baloney and cruel.

An America coming out of the Great Depression somehow found the leadership and the will to build and deploy around the globe 2.5 million trucks in the same period of time that the incumbent U.S. government has failed to get 30,000 fully armored vehicles to Iraq.

The Bush administration has appropriated $34.3 billion on a theoretical missile defense system -- which proved again this week to be an expensive dud in its first test in two years, when the "kill vehicle" never got off the ground to intercept the target missile carrying a mock warhead -- but has been able up to now, according to congressional budget authorities, to spend just $2 billion to armor the vehicles of Americans under fire.

The armor is truly a matter of life and death, as [Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi] explains: "Half of all our casualties, half of all our deaths and half of all our wounded are the direct result of improvised explosive devices [IEDs, or homemade bombs]." But when Washington officials visit Iraq, their traveling security includes not only heavily armored vehicles but also radio-signal jammers, which can disable the IEDs.

What makes Taylor authentically angry is the inexcusable failure of the U.S. brass -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he names -- to provide radio jammers (which cost $10,000 each) to the fewer than 30,000 U.S. military vehicles in Iraq . . . .

"A jammer costs about $10,000, and it probably costs about $10,000 to bury a dead GI. I believe Americans would rather spend the $10,000 to prevent the GI's funeral being held."
The solution (courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.D.):
U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe said Thursday that cutbacks during the Clinton administration resulted in the lack of armor and other materiel faced by U.S. troops in Iraq.

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