Saturday, January 07, 2006

Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives

This week, the New York Times reported that Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives in Iraq. They said that

"A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials."

More secrets from this administration that doesn't really care about the soldiers; they don't support the troops, but they say they do. Let me give the Pentagon a suggestion, if you are paying the families $400,000 in death benefits for each soldier and the total cost for adequate body armor is $4,000, would someone do a cost benefit analysis? $880,000,000 or $8,800,000. I'll let you decide.

The issue of body armor has gone on since long before the invasion back in March 2003. Soldiers are dying while Army & Marine officials are trying to decide which design suits their soldiers better. May I repeat SOLDIERS ARE DYING!? And if the Pentagon has been collecting data on this since the beginning of the war, then WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR? May I repeat SOLDIERS ARE DYING! And one more time for the people in the back row- SOLDIERS ARE DYING!

Remember back in December 2004, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld told us
"As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want," No, Don, you plan for AND provide superior equipment and the best safety for your soldiers BEFORE you send them into harms way. But you and your pals in the administration just had to get into Iraq, facts be damned. I don't think one can be safe in Iraq, but you could certainly be safer with proper body armor.

There are stories of family members and communities buying body armor for their soldiers because the deploying units were not going to provide it for them. US Congress even told the Defense Department to reimburse parents who had bought body armor for their sons or daughters serving in Iraq.
Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon still hasn't figured out a way to reimburse U.S. troops for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq.

Further, the secret report says

"military officials and defense contractors said the Pentagon's procurement troubles have stemmed in part from miscalculations that underestimated the strength of the insurgency, and from years of cost-cutting that left some armoring firms on the brink of collapse as they waited for new orders."

It's not only body armor that the DOD is delayed in providing. Fully armored vehicles with special shaped hulls, designed to minimize injuries, have been delayed due to multiple blunders.

More delays were caused by infighting between the Marines & the Army. The Army wanted their vehicles shipped before the Marine vehicles and complying with that request impacted production. Except there is one BIG problem with that. At best they violated federal procurement regulations. DPAS, the Defense Priorities and Allocations System was put into place back in the 1950's. The purpose of DPAS is to assure the timely availability of industrial resources to meet current national defense and emergency preparedness program requirements and to provide an operating system to support rapid industrial response in a national emergency (that's DOD speak for "you can't take cuts in line")

There are serious consequences, including losing government contracts if DPAS is violated. Sadly, many contractors new to federal contracts don't read those terms of the contract or don't care. (note: a quick review of the executive biographies at Force Protection, the contractor in question for these new vehicles, suggests these guys are no rookies in the defense industry. Shame, shame!) As in much of the federal procurement system, these terms are very black and white with little or no wiggle room. Shame on these contractors for not complying. Whatever the consequences, it's not bad enough. These contractors have blood on their hands as surely as anyone who marched our young men and women into battle. Violation of DPAS, allegations of falsifying records to hide defective workmanship AND inability to handle mass production are serious transgressions. The Department of Defense knows how to pick them, don't they?

The story keeps getting better, doesn't it? And who is it that supports the troops?


Anonymous said...

What can you expect from a trio of morons who never saw action themselves - Bush, "five deferments" Cheney and Rumsfeld. I get so angry when I think of Rumsfeld's statement that "you go to war with the army you have." Unfortunately, we went with the Secretary of Defense we had. And far too many men, women and children have died as a result. This administration has far too much blood on its hands.

Chancelucky said...

In a related vein, the number of veterans with traumatic brain injuries has jumped considerably. Apparently the VA has been ordered to follow a policy of first telling the vets that their problems are "psychological".

If the administration would send members of their own family there, then I'd believe they are serious about protecting our troops.