Now Cough

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Failure of Imagination Part 2

Procurement of Body Bags Probably Went Swimmingly

The families of troops in Iraq have not forgotten even if Donald Rumseld has.

Why did it take so long to get body armor to the troops and why are so many still waiting for adequate armor to protect vulnerable Humvees from roadside bombs?

The New York Times has an infuriating story about why it took so long for the troops to get body armor in this article this evening. (reg required).

"In the case of body armor, the Pentagon gave a contract for thousands of the ceramic plate inserts that make the vests bulletproof to a former Army researcher who had never mass-produced anything. He struggled for a year, then gave up entirely. At the same time, in shipping plates from other companies, the Army's equipment manager effectively reduced the armor's priority to the status of socks, a confidential report by the Army's inspector general shows.(emphasis mine) Some 10,000 plates were lost along the way, and the rest arrived late. "

The NYT notes that many of our allies ignored going through the Pentagon to get body armor and contracted directly with a manufacturer in the US. Those soldiers started getting their armor in 12 days.

" 'This is a new age in war with an enemy that adapts faster than we do,' said Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr., retired, a former head of the Army War College. 'Al Qaeda doesn't have to go to the Board of Accountability in order to develop a new roadside bomb or triggering device.' "

Their statements to the contrary, that message doesn't appear to have gotten through to the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon or the White House. The insurgents are adapting faster. The administration has, once again, demonstrated a lack of imagination in anticipating the threats and responding.

Rumsfeld's credbility on this entire issue is, to put it mildly, poor.

This an excerpt from Rumsfeld's testimony before the Senate House Armed Services Committee on Feb. 17 (emphasis mine, below):

"The Army has stepped up production of armored Humvees by more than 1,000 percent since mid-2003, when its forces began to face the improvised explosive device threat in Iraq – from 35 per month in May 2003 to 450 monthly by December 2004. (Yes, but when precisely did that jump occur? Me thinks it was after the soldier confronted Rumsfeld before Christmas.)
I am told by General Casey that as of this week, (It is General Casey's butt on the line here?) with a few exceptions, U.S. military vehicles in Iraq carrying American troops outside of protected areas will have appropriate armor. (what does appropriate mean?)
In addition, since March 2003, the military has produced in excess of 400,000 sets of body armor  --  up from 1,200 sets produced per month to over 25,000 produced per month. (Date range for when this got ramped up?And it gives the impression that everyone is protected.)
The Department recognizes the critical importance of safeguarding the troops in the field.  So the military has made force protection institutionalized across the Services as part of their core capabilities. (Read this carefully--it is a goal, the way it is stated. It is part of a core capability but there is no wording here confirming the Pentagon is there yet.)


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