Monday, January 22, 2007

Supporting and Protecting the Troops: Where Did the Money (and Real Support) Go?

The Baltimore Sun reports that even now our troops are inadequately protected against IEDs. Effectively armored vehicles are in short supply. And the primary mission of our Defense Dept. --to provide for our troops-- goes untended.

Scarce vehicles become scarcer, and Marines have to "swap access to scarce armored vehicles." Indeed in an earlier article the Sun also reported that most newly deployed troops will not have access to adequately armored vehicles. How can this be?

While it's true that use and harsh conditions have taken a toll on protective vehicles, it is also true that the Defense Dept. has failed to assure their repair or replacement production and deployment. Accountability? Anyone?

Another article this weekend from Reuters reveals the price tag for Iraq has risen to $8.4 billion a month this year, nearly twice what it was in 2003 ($4.4 billion). Bush is set to request another $100 billion on top of the $70 billion already earmarked for Iraq this year. The Democratic Congress, including US Rep John Murtha's Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations, should take a closer look at just where the money has gone and will go. Murtha and his counterpart in the Senate must demand 1) proper protection of our troops and 2) effective oversight. Anything less should result in more replacements of another kind -- of those failing at their jobs of protecting the troops, starting with administration officials.

Instead of armored vehicles, the Army is sending 71,000 sets of fire-retardant uniforms to protect our men and women from fires when Humvees are consumed by fire. Meanwhile, as the administration floods the airwaves with more empty rhetoric about its supporting the troops, this same administration fails utterly at it's most fundamental responsibility to those who serve us.

Note: This article is cross-posted at Raising Kaine