Skip to comments.Soldiers in Iraq too vulnerable, says Army specialist
Posted on 05/16/2004 5:01:44 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4
WAR COMPLAINT: Lack of preparation, protection may have cost life and limb, Portage soldier says.
BY JERRY DAVICH
Times Staff Writer
U.S. military leaders failed their soldiers with inadequate combat equipment, vehicles, leadership and training during Operation Iraqi Freedom, a local soldier believes.
Poor planning from day one may have cost American lives and limbs, wrote Army Spc. Christopher Heldt, 24, from his position at the Baghdad International Airport.
"Many soldiers have been riding in unprotected HUMMVs for over a year, all the while roadside explosive devices have been the biggest threat we face... on the most dangerous streets in the world," e-mailed Heldt, a Portage native.
Soldiers are forced to create makeshift protection gear for the all noncombat vehicles by either placing sandbags along the floorboards and frames or hiring local natives to weld steel on the sides and bottom, he said.
"Neither is as effective as the true armored HUMMVs we need," he wrote.
Heldt, like many soldiers there, didn't receive his bulletproof Interceptor Body Armor, or IBA, until September, three months after arriving at his current base, he said.
"How many soldiers could have been saved if they had the armor to begin with?" he asked.
The last straw for Heldt, who works in the Army's finance unit, came earlier this month when the Army extended his year-long "boots on ground" tour of duty another 90 days, through the June 30 transfer of power deadline in Iraq.
That's when he began voicing his concerns publicly.
Military officials, Heldt claims, went against their word by keeping exhausted, disgruntled soldiers in the hot zones "who have already sacrificed enough."
"Beyond one year takes it to another level," he wrote. "Many of us are tired, worn out and ready to go back. We deserve that much."
Heldt enlisted with a friend in 2001 mostly because "it was time to grow up." After growing up on the fly, he arrived in Baghdad in late May 2003.
"Who takes blame for not being prepared?" he asked. "We cannot change the fact that many soldiers died because there was a lack of protection... (or) the lack of planning of rotating the troops out in a timely manner."
Very few fellow soldiers there have accepted the recent 90-day extension as "We have a mission to accomplish, let's stay to get it done," he wrote.
"Most of the soldiers, including myself, never thought we would be here beyond one year. One year in a combat area has been unheard of since the Vietnam War."
Heldt said too many soldiers were marched into Iraq without specific purposes and training. And too many units were doing jobs that had no relation to their training.
Yet, when these concerns were voiced to superiors, the reply was a familiar echo: "We're working on that," he wrote.
What Heldt misses most about home is normalcy.
After a year of waking up in tents and walking outside into sandstorms, Heldt misses the simple things, he said. Like hopping in a car to go to the store, or downing a tall cold one, or seeing his wife's smile every morning.
"I may be the one in the desert in a hostile area, but she, without question, is the one who deserves the praise of everyone," he wrote. "She has helped me through this in more ways than she will ever know."
Heldt's four-year enlistment ends next April.
"I am getting out as soon as I can," he wrote.
Indeed their plan is working.
Army Spc. Christopher Heldt, 24, like Hanoi John this youngster knows so much more than the generals. (/sarcasm)
The military, not just the Army is working transformation using desert and urban scenarios. Lets hope that does not change much in the next 6 or 7 years. I would like to see some work being done in more restricted maneuver areas such as Bosnia or even central Europe, but funding constraints do not allow for that. No work being done for a South or Central America scenario. Let's not even open that can of worms.
Hey! With all due respect I'll have you know that 'Da Mare', Richie Daley is PROUD of that fact. Not any city can be 'MURDER CAPITAL', USA.
I mean he must be. After all why would there be a sign at the city limits on Archer Ave just east of Harlem Ave, that says;
/sarcasm off And no, there's no such sign there, I just like mocking that spoiled little punk
Sorry but production of Armored Humvees and development of a better armored vehicle for urban warfare should have been stepped up right after Somalia. The man has a point.
The fact that HUMVEEs are unarmored has been a vulnerability that the Iraqi irregulars have exploited, through their IEDs, the weapon of choice in breaking up patrols.
There have been reports of GIs lining the interior of their HUMVEE with salvaged body armor, and this seems to be somewhat effective, at least in preventing secondary schrapnel from torn pieces of the vehicle itself from further injuring the passengers. It should not be too involved to install a similar feature designed as an integral part of the vehicle during manufacture, on the side walls and beneath the floor boards. Compared to armor plating of similar effectiveness, the weight advantage would more than compensate for the relatively higher cost of the design.
I retired as a First Sergeant and can guarantee that if this young Specialist had been in my unit and shot off his mouth like he did in this article he would have been a very unhappy camper while standing on my carpet (and yes I did have a carpet in front of my desk.) A finace puke clerk becoming a tactics expert - phooey!
Yer wrong and you've got to look at proportion. Cook county (Chicago) had an approximate population of 5,375,000 as reported by the 2000 census. The number of homocides for Chicago in 2002 was 647 or about 130 less than the total number of combat and non-combat deaths reported in Iraq (out of a troop strength of approximately 135,000). It's also fairly obvious that the vast majority of citizens in Chicago do not have a target on their collective backs while our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines do.
Give it a rest, Top. You know as well as I do that all soldiers bitch, moan and complain (Also, it's your right to hand them a toothbrush and come up with some innovative extra training). However, I've found that the most honest answers come from folks who don't know any better.
Thousands of retrofit armor kits have been shipped to Iraq for the unarmored Humvees. Over 2700 Armored Humvees have made it to ground in Iraq, and production on NEW ARMORED HUMVEES is hitting 1500 a month. They are being shipped to active duty military daily.
Seems that ALL media is failing to follow up on their research, or maybe they just want to IGNORE the fact that the Military usually has implemented corrections on these "reports", long before the stories are written. Media lying and deceiving us ALL? No surprise here...
Gruber stated that his company wasn't even supplied with waders to get ashore at Omaha Beach and actually got wet up to their waists and that additionally enemy gunfire had killed and wounded some of his comrades.
"If I'd known FDR and Ike were so dumb, I never would have (continued on pg. D3 Style section)
Counting sand grains in his off time comes to mind.
A trivial point to be sure, but it makes me wonder about the rest of the story.
Yup if the troops aren't bitchin they aren't hayyp and that goes for peacetime as well as war. However every troop knows that thare are standing orders against making statements to the press without either PIO permission ar a PIO rep present.
When I send for or go looking for a soldier in my unit, they know they are in big trouble.
I don't agree with what the Specialist did but your remark relects on you - not him. Inappropriate!