Saturday :: Dec 11, 2004

Bu$hCo Supports The Troops

by pessimist

There is more on the unarmored Humvee scandal - Rumsfeld promised to rectify this situation months ago. [via Liberal Oasis]

Q: ...the new...humvees they're bringing over...those doors are not as good as the ones on the up-armored humvees... we lost some soldiers due to them... The question is, are we going to get more up-armored humvees?...

GEN. RICHARD MYERS: ...You do not have all the up-armored humvees you need... Production is ramping up this month...We're trying to get them to you as fast as we can... It's not a matter of resources, it's a matter of how fast can we build these things and get them over here.

And I review that probably daily, the status of those machines and that equipment that can help... So we're trying. We're trying hard...I understand exactly everything you said, and we'll do our best.

And that's our responsibility.

That is not from Don Rumsfeld's town hall meeting with troops in Kuwait this past Wednesday. It's from a Don Rumsfeld town hall meeting with troops in Baghdad this past May.

(It so happened that the Chair of the Joint Chiefs fielded the armored humvee question, but Rumsfeld was by his side.)

So he should not have been surprised when Bu$hCo supporter Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asked about when they were going to get armored Humvees.

And then, it turns out that 'THE' Donald 'Duck and run' Rumsfeld only had to say the word and the deed would be done!

Armor Holdings Could Boost Humvee Armor Output 22%

Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today. "We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month," Mecredy said in the interview. "I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that."

Walking His Support Talk

Armor Holdings has already boosted output from 60 vehicles a month a year ago, said Mecredy, 58. As a result of the increased output, Armor Holdings has cut the price for the armor its supplies for the trucks to $58,000 per vehicle, from $72,000 per vehicle a year ago, Mecredy said.

We may not agree on politics and whether the Iraq war is just, but this man's company is doing more to support our troops than even the Secretary of Defense! My hat is off to you, sir, for your efforts on behalf of our fellow citizens.

Armor Holdings isn't the only company standing ready to aid Spc. Wilson:

Production of the armor needs to be coordinated with output of the actual trucks by AM General LLC of South Bend, Indiana, Mecredy said. AM General spokesman Lee Woodward also said that truck output could also be increased. "If they ordered more trucks, we'd build more trucks," Woodward said. "We're not close to capacity. It might take some time to ramp up but we can do it."

So if the suppliers are ready, willing, and able to help Spc. Wilson, who is to blame for the shortage???

The main reason there isn't enough armor is because the military has underestimated its own needs, said Meghan Keck, spokeswoman for Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat. "If the Army would be up front about the number of Humvees needed, the companies would be able to set their production accordingly to meet the need," Keck said in a phone interview.

Still trying to fight the oil wars on the cheap, eh Ebeneezer - er, Rummy?

This situation is so uncomfortably foul that even FAUX News' John Gibson takes Rummy-dummy to task:

Chink in the Armor?

I try to have confidence that the Pentagon has the soldiers' best interests at heart and they are armoring these Humvees as quickly as possible. I think it's good news that two thirds of the Humvees in Iraq are up-armored.

But I think it's bad news that one third aren't and I'd like to see the Pentagon get on the ball about doing this quicker.

It doesn't surprise me that soldiers are looking in the scrap heap for another piece of steel to weld on their Humvees. My guess is that when the armored Humvee arrives, the first thing the driver does is look around to see if he can get a bit more steel under his seat and over his driver's side door.

Good. He should. I hope he finds a nice chunk of metal and his buddies weld it on, whether or not the thing came armored in the first place.

That said, I do wish the Pentagon was moving faster on this up-armor business. Up-armoring two thirds of the vehicles is good as long as you get that other one third done real fast.

Our troops deserve no less, but less is all they seem to get.

I've covered the increase in homeless veterans which is directly attributable to the cuts in Veteran's Affairs budgets promulgated by Bu$hCo in their attempts to make more homeless veterans.

Bu$hCo representatives admit that funding is too little, but attempt to pass the responsibility to religious organizations - that means you Red Staters and your churches.

Passing The Buck

On any given day there are an estimated 300,000 homeless vets.

"We have a system that is absolutely, positively, totally at capacity," Baskerville says. "It's a struggle every day to try and figure out where we can get services for our veterans."

The Veterans Administration and its network of local government and non-profit organizations can only come up with 100,000 beds each night, enough for only one out of three. "We have to do more," says Anthony Principi, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "We have to attempt to increase our funding level to offset the loss of funding at a local level.

"But what the local level has to do is get those community-based, non-profit, those faith-based organizations to help fill the void."

Blaiming the victim is Standard Operating Proceedure for Bu$hCo. Here's just one example:

He lost an arm in Iraq; the Army wants money

He lost his arm serving his country in Iraq.

Now this wounded soldier is being discharged from his company in Fort Hood, Texas, without enough gas money to get home. In fact, the Army says 27-year-old Spc. Robert Loria owes it close to $2,000 and confiscated his last paycheck.

Loria thought he'd done it all, and was getting ready to collect $4,486 in final Army pay. Then he was hit with another bomb. The Army had another tally – of money it says Loria owed to his government.

A Separation Pay Worksheet given to Loria showed the numbers:

* $2,408.33 for 10 months of family separation pay that the Army erroneously paid Loria after he'd returned stateside, as a patient at Walter Reed;

* $2,204.25 that Loria received for travel expenses from Fort Hood back to Walter Reed for a follow-up visit, after the travel paperwork submitted by Loria never reached the correct desk.

* And $310 for missing items on his returned equipment inventory list.

"There was stuff lost in transportation, others damaged in the accident," Loria said of the day he lost his hand. "When it went up the chain of command, the military denied coverage."

Including taxes, the amount Loria owed totaled $6,255.50. The last line on the worksheet subtracted that total from his final Army payout and found $1,768.81 "due us."

"It's nerve-racking," Loria said. "After everything I have done, it's almost like I am being abandoned, like, you did your job for us and now you are no use. That's how it feels."

Sorry, soldier. You deserve much better from the government of your country.

So do all the other soldiers in our armed forces. This article shows that there is a huge need for improvement on 'THE' Donald's rummy (adj. def.) Pentagon:

US Army plagued by desertion and plunging morale

WHILE insurgents draw on deep wells of fury to expand their ranks in Iraq, the US military is fighting desertion, recruitment shortfalls and legal challenges from its own troops.

The irritation among the rank and file became all too clear this week when a soldier stood up in a televised session with Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, to ask why the world’s richest army was having to hunt for scrap metal to protect its vehicles.

The same night, interviews with three soldiers who are seeking refugee status in Canada, where they have become minor celebrities, dominated prime time television. They are among more the than 5,000 troops that CBS’s 60 Minutes reported on Wednesday had deserted since the war began.

Many experts say that America’s 1.4 million active-duty troops and 865,000 part-timers are stretched to the point where President Bush may see other foreign policy goals blunted.

The bleed from the US military is heaviest among part-timers, who have been dragged en masse out of civilian life to serve their country with unprecedented sacrifice. More than 183,000 National Guard and reserve troops are on active duty, compared with 79,000 before the invasion of Iraq. Forty per cent of the 138,000 troops in Iraq are part-timers who never expected to be sent to the front line.

For the first time in a decade, the Army National Guard missed its recruitment target this year. Instead of signing up 56,000 people, it found 51,000.

“This is something that the President and the country should be worried about,” said Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defence under Ronald Reagan and now a military analyst who opposes the war.

A further sign of strain can be seen in the Army’s decision this year to mobilise 5,600 members of a pool of former soldiers that can be mobilised only in a national emergency.

The crisis may be even deeper than the statistics suggest. Active-duty Army recruiters exceeded their target of 77,000 by 587 this year only by dipping into a pool of recruits who had not planned to report until next year, and by dropping educational standards, Mr Korb said.

At least eight soldiers have turned to the courts, accusing the military of tricking them into enlisting for a fixed term without warning them that they could be forced to stay longer. Once they get out, soldiers are increasingly resisting hefty bonuses to re-enlist, an incentive that had helped to meet recruitment targets in the past.

At 10 per cent, the death rate among war casualties is the lowest in history. But maimed men and women are flocking home with horror stories about the war, which is claiming more and more casualties.

Few experts are surprised to hear that a recent army survey discovered that half the soldiers were not planning to re-enlist.

Experts are divided over how stretched America’s military really is. But they agree that another conflict would put the military in overdrive. Another war would require a shift to a “no-kidding wartime posture in which everybody who could shoot was given a rifle and sent to the front,” according to John Pike, of

Two historical examples of this come to mind to demonstrate that such a move on the part of 'THE' Donald's rummy Pentagon reeks of desperation. Every available man was given a weapon and sent to the front on Bataan in 1942 and during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. In both of those battles, US forces were locally facing superior numbers of better equiped enemy troops without benefit of air cover, reinforcement, or resupply.

Can 'THE' Donald honestly make that claim about our forces in Iraq?

We doubt it - strongly. But there is still a crisis that 'THE' Donald needs to face up to - morale is shot:

Military faces complaints, morale problems

Troops always gripe. But confronting the defense secretary, filing a lawsuit over extended tours and refusing to go on a mission because it's too dangerous elevate complaining to a new level. It also could mean a deeper problem for the Pentagon: a lessening of faith in the Iraq mission and in a volunteer army that soldiers can't leave.

It also highlighted growing morale and motivation problems in the 21-month-old war that even some administration supporters say must be addressed to get off a slippery slope that could eventually lead to breakdowns reminiscent of the Vietnam War.

Remember - the father of George Warmonger Bu$h promised us in his 1988 inaugural address that Vietnam was behind us. But instead, in true Bu$hCo incompetence, his doofus son put it right smack in front of our faces where we can't ignore its ugly and odiferous presence.

"We are seeing some unprecedented things. The real fear is that these could be tips of a larger iceberg," said P.J. Crowley, a retired colonel who served as a Pentagon spokesman in both Republican and Democratic administrations and was a White House national security aide in the Clinton administration.

"Tensions obviously are rising," said Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

"The fact is that you do need now to consider how to change the force structure: the role of the reserves, the role of the actives. Troops are being deployed in continuing combat under what are often high risk conditions for far longer periods than anyone had previously considered or planned for."

When the war began in March 2003, the troops were predominantly active duty military. Today, National Guard and Army Reserve units make up about 40 percent of the force.

"The real issue is not any one of these things individually. It's what the broader impact will be on our re-enlistment rates and our retention," Crowley said.

But even if there were sufficient replacement enlistments, who is going to lead them if the experienced officers leave the service???

Officer crisis hits Army Reserve

The Army Reserve is facing an extreme shortage of company officers, a situation aggravated by a surge in resignation requests. Resignation requests have jumped from just 15 in 2001 to more than 370 during a 12-month period ending in September. The resignation requests are another sign of a military under strain during the protracted war in Iraq, where more than 40 percent of the U.S. forces are drawn from the ranks of Reserve and National Guard.

The shortage — primarily of captains — has seriously reduced the capabilities of the Reserve, and continued losses will further reduce the readiness of "an already depleted military force," according to an Army briefing document submitted last month to Congress. To preserve its leadership ranks, the Reserve increasingly has rejected resignation requests, forcing some officers to stay on even after they have fulfilled their initial eight-year service requirement.

The Army Reserve has openings for 14,629 captains, who typically serve seven years as junior officers prior to appointment. As of September, the Reserve had only 8,583 captains — about 59 percent of the target, according to an Army document obtained by The Seattle Times.

In a full-staffed Reserve, these captains and other officers would train stateside with the same units that they join in Iraq. This follows the Army philosophy that units that train together perform best in the field.

But in the current short-staffed Reserve, Iraq-bound units often may be filled out by last-minute reassignments from other states. "This is an imbalance that candidly occurred because we had folks who were ... asleep at the switch," Lt. Gen. James Helmly told the House Armed Service committee at a Nov. 17 hearing. "We've recognized that ... it will be about five to seven years before we can correct the imbalance."

Army officials said some of the trouble can be traced back to the '90s as the Army downsized to meet the reduced threat of the Cold War era, and encouraged many officers to resign with financial incentives.

Before our resident wrong-wingers jump on this fact to bash Clinton, I will stipulate that this was something his adminstration should have had the foresight to prevent - so stick to the topic: Bu$hCo's lack of proper support for our troops.

Now the surplus has turned to a shortage that intensifies as more officers seek to leave the Reserve after completing an eight-year commitment — but long before the 20-year mark that offers retirement benefits.

In the years ahead, the resignation requests are likely to increase. "I personally know a lot of guys who are looking forward to just finishing up and being done," said 1st Lt. Lewis Miller, with the Army Reserve, 671st Engineers Company out of Portland, which returned from Iraq earlier this year. "A lot of them tend to be better educated and have strong civilian jobs, and they took some massive (pay) hits when they went on active duty."

Assuming that these jobs haven't been taken to India by Colin Powell!

In the meantime, Army Reserve is crafting a new policy to curb resignations. Under the policy, which has yet to be finalized, company-grade officers who have not yet been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan would generally not be allowed to resign unless they could demonstrate "extreme personal reasons," such as hardships posed by the death or disability of a spouse. But the Army would now look favorably on the resignation requests of officers who have served one tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, such as the captain interviewed by The Seattle Times.

This kind of a policy will only make matters worse as favoritism - another Bu$hCo staple - creates divisions among the ranks.

You Red Staters are famous for your unquestioned support for the military. You are also famous for enlisting in numbers out of proportion to your percentage of the population (we'll ignore the lack of a secure economic future which drives many of you to do so). So I ask you.:

How can you support such incompetent morons who have no 'moral values' and who willingly throw your sons and daughters into battle without sufficient support of every kind while they bend over backwards to make sure that their compaign contributors like Halliburton and Enron are never inconvenienced by any kind of legal repercussions over their illegal and immoral activities?

I'm waiting.

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pessimist :: 5:09 PM :: Comments (19) :: Digg It!