Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Is this how we support the troops?


Is this how we support the troops?

Memo to supporters of George W. Bush: Before you slap another red,
white and blue magnetic ribbon on the rear end of your SUV, why not
take a moment to read a new report from the Marine Corps' inspector
general? It might give you a whole new sense of what it means to
"support the troops" -- and how the current administration isn't doing

According to today's Boston Globe
marine_units_found_to_lack_equipment/>, the inspector general finds
that U.S. Marines assigned to fight in some of the most dangerous parts
of Iraq haven't been provided the weapons, communications gear or
vehicles they need. The inspector general says that "all" Marine units
currently fighting in Iraq "require ground equipment that exceeds" what
they've got, "particularly in mobility, engineering, communications and
heavy weapons."

The Humvee problem is apparently particularly acute. According to the
Globe, the inspector general found that a quarter of the Humvees
assigned to the Second Marine Expeditionary Force lack the armor needed
to protect against roadside bombs. And the Humvees that have been
retrofitted with armor are wearing out faster than they should because
they weren't designed to carry so much weight.

But it's not just Humvees. The Globe says that the inspector general
found that all -- all -- of the tanks the Marines are using in Iraq
have "passed the normal criteria for replacing them." The Marines need
more .50-caliber machine guns, more M240G machine guns, more MK19
machine guns and more and better communications equipment, too, the
inspector general found.

The report will be the subject of a House Armed Services Committee
hearing today, but its contents are probably old news for parents of
some Marines -- people who have come to understand that "supporting the
troops" sometimes means ponying up the money themselves for military
equipment their kids will need in Iraq.

The Arizona Republic
0618evthomason18Z10.html> told the story of one such Marine family over
the weekend: As Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod prepared to ship out to Iraq
recently, he called home to tell his folks that his superiors were
urging him and his fellow Marines to buy their own armor-plated flak
jackets, knee and elbow pads, special ballistic goggles, a "drop pouch"
to hold ammunition, a load-bearing vest and a Camelbak water carrier.
"We're supposed to have a professional army, the best in the world,"
Tod's father told the newspaper. "And we're not providing them with the
type of gear they need to protect themselves as they do their jobs."