Skip to comments.DISGRUNTLED TROOPS COMPLAIN TO RUMSFELD
Posted on 12/08/2004 7:11:44 AM PST by areafiftyone
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (AP) -- Disgrunted U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about the lack of armor for their vehicles and long deployments, drawing a blunt retort from the Pentagon chief.
"You go to war with the Army you have," he said in a rare public airing of rank-and-file concerns among the troops.
In his prepared remarks earlier, Rumsfeld had urged the troops - mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers - to discount critics of the war in Iraq and to help "win the test of wills" with the insurgents.
Some of soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own - not of the war itself but of how it is being fought.
Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the start of the war that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.
Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.
"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.
Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face and said the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.
And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.
"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.
Asked later about Wilson's complaint, the deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Kuwait, Maj. Gen. Gary Speer, said in an interview that as far as he knows, every vehicle that is deploying to Iraq from Camp Buehring in Kuwait has at least "Level 3" armor. That means it at least has locally fabricated armor for its side panels, but not necessarily bulletproof windows or protection against explosions that penetrate the floorboard.
Speer said he was not aware that soldiers were searching landfills for scrap metal and used bulletproof glass.
During the question-and-answer session, another soldier complained that active-duty Army units sometimes get priority over the National Guard and Reserve units for the best equipment in Iraq.
"There's no way I can prove it, but I am told the Army is breaking its neck to see that there is not" discrimination against the National Guard and Reserve in terms of providing equipment, Rumsfeld said.
Yet another soldier asked, without putting it to Rumsfeld as a direct criticism, how much longer the Army will continue using its "stop loss" power to prevent soldiers from leaving the service who are otherwise eligible to retire or quit.
Rumsfeld said that this condition was simply a fact of life for soldiers at time of war.
"It's basically a sound principle, it's nothing new, it's been well understood" by soldiers, he said. "My guess is it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used."
In his opening remarks, Rumsfeld stressed that soldiers who are heading to Iraq should not believe those who say the insurgents cannot be defeated or who otherwise doubt the will of the military to win.
"They say we can't prevail. I see that violence and say we must win," Rumsfeld said.
You signed, you play.<<<<
That's how I should have put it from the start. And, don't thank me, I was wrong in the way I initially addressed the issue. No one has the right to lump the bad apples in with the good.
Thanks HEARTILY for your service to this Country!
Reservists and National Guard do go soft. After they leave Basic and AIT training they are reintroduced to the civilian world and all of a sudden everything they learned and became accustomed to in the Army gets forgotten. I served in the Army Reserve for 6 years and you saw the new guys right out of training reporting for duty and standing at Parade Rest, saying, "Yes 1st Sgt!" or "No 1st Sgt." to any question by Top. Eventually after a couple of drills they are acting like every other weekend warrior, sometimes not even bothering to get their hair cut to regulation for the drill. Not everyone was like this, as I took it pretty seriously, but there were always a few bad apples.
I just wouldn't judge all Reservists or Guardsmen based on this, as quite a few of the guys getting maimed and killed in Iraq right now are citizen-soldiers.
If you had ever served in the armed services you would know that there is such a thing as a "chain of command" and these Soldiers were out of line. PERIOD!
Sorry, but I am not going to accept any excuse for why they military doesn't have exactly what it needs while we are wasting 10 of billions of dollars on pork projects.
You're absolutely right! Last year, part of the Homeland Security appropriations included a $50 Million greenhouse for Des Moines, Iowa. That, of course, was absolutely essential to fight the War on Terror. How much vehicle and body armor could we have purchased for the troops with $50 Million?
Didn't sKerry vote against funding which would have provided the troops with additional supplies?
I just wouldn't judge all Reservists or Guardsmen based on this, as quite a few of the guys getting maimed and killed in Iraq right now are citizen-soldiers.<<<
I am duly chastised and accept same. With great humility, I thank you for your service along with all who sacrifice for this Country.
These guys are griping. They are allowed to gripe. The mistake here was the Pentagon choosing to make this session public. It's not the soldiers' fault that they asked tough questions after being invited to a session where they were told to ask tough questions.
Bad PR move from the Pentagon.
There was also the 75mm anti-tank gun that was mounted in the nose of the B-25 Mitchell by the aircrews in New Guinea. This made the B-25 into a devastating killer of Japanese shipping. Imagine the results of a 75MM AP round slicing through to the boiler of a thin skinned transport. Catastrophic. The engineers at North American aircraft were asked to build this into subsequent models, but allegedly refused until they saw with their own eyes that it actually worked.
I only bring these up because they are famous examples of troops adapting & overcoming in the field. Those WW2 aircrews bitched. And you can believe that the WW2 Tankers were demoralized at their losses. But they overcame.
It's very difficult for any large complex supply chain to adapt to changing circumstances on the battlefield. There are always units at the point of the spear that, for whatever reason, don't get the goods, even if they are in the pipeline.
Furthermore, adding armour reduces the payload rating of the vehicle making additional vehicles necessary to haul the same amount of material. The additional vehicles or additional trips just increase the odds of being hit.
The problem is that this administration is fighting this war on the cheap. Not enought equipment and not enough boots on the ground in order to get the job done. What this administration knows about warfighting is causing Patton to spin in his grave. but now that he has been reelected, Bush cold care less. The military has become a photo op for him and his staff.
Ask yourself a simple question. If your car was unsafe to drive to work...and you had money to fix it a thousand times over...why wouldn't you fix it...at least in six months...if not twelve months? There is not a VIP in the US government who would have moved mountains to fix their own luxery VIP caddy...if it was unsafe. This is a no-brainer. There should have been a Army 0-6 appointed 12 months ago...and given the money fix every vehicle in 120 days. He should have personally reported back to Rumsfeld and reported mission accomplished back in May of this year. For any troops to have to stand there now and say that the problem isn't yet fixed...simply is garbage. Either fix the problem or get the heck out of the way.
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