Our concern should be keeping our soldiers safe
Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 10:42 p.m.
In a Dec. 30 letter, Robert Gault rushed to the aid of embattled Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by questioning the accuracy of the statements made by a GI in Iraq concerning the availability of armor in Iraq.
Gault claimed that it has been "widely reported" that all of the vehicles in the regiment of the soldier who questioned Rumsfeld had armor within 24 hours of the question. I heard Sean Hannity and others say this, but this is just not true.
First, the question is about armoring vehicles, all vehicles, such as transport trucks and fuel tankers as well as Humvees. Col. John Zimmerman, the staff judge advocate for the unit in question, the 278th combat team, told The New York Times last month that the unit's Humvees were sufficiently armored but that most of its heavy trucks were not.
Second, the issue is the troops having legitimate factory armor. In this unit, 459 of the Humvees are "sufficiently armored" with locally fabricated armor plates, known to the troops as "hillbilly armor."
What is most disturbing about this story was the announcement made by firms that manufacture and install Humvee armor, stating that they had plenty of capacity, but had not been asked by the Defense Department to increase production.
While Rumsfeld has known for the longest time that Americans were dying because vehicles were not armored, nothing happened until he was blindsided with"the question." Too bad Hannity and Gault think "the question" is the problem, not American troops dying needlessly in unarmored vehicles.
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