Friday, December 10, 2004

from the mind of  Daredemo.

After having their hopes of removing Bush and Cheney from office squashed a month ago, the left is now working on what they believe to be the next most vulnerable target in the administration, Donald Rumsfeld. This started a couple weeks ago with incessant (and evidently baseless) chatter about his imminent resignation, and continues now with a kerfuffle triggered by a Q & A session Rumsfeld had with the troops in Kuwait on Dec 8. (Completely voluntarily and open to the public. Obvious evidence of how diabolically secretive this administration really is) Here is the full exchange. Note how it ends, which is never reported.

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We've had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we've always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don't we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

SEC. RUMSFELD: I missed the first part of your question. And could you repeat it for me?
Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I'm told that they are being – the Army is – I think it's something like 400 a month are being done. And its essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip. It's interesting, I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working on it hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and, the vehicle, the goal we have is to have as many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that is what the Army has been working on.

And General Whitcomb, is there anything you'd want to add to that?

GEN. WHITCOMB: Nothing. [Laughter] Mr. Secretary, I'd be happy to. That is a focus on what we do here in Kuwait and what is done up in the theater, both in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. As the secretary has said, it's not a matter of money or desire; it is a matter of the logistics of being able to produce it. The 699th, the team that we've got here in Kuwait has done [Cheers] a tremendous effort to take that steel that they have and cut it, prefab it and put it on vehicles. But there is nobody from the president on down that is not aware that this is a challenge for us and this is a desire for us to accomplish.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The other day, after there was a big threat alert in Washington, D.C. in connection with the elections, as I recall, I looked outside the Pentagon and there were six or eight up-armored humvees. They're not there anymore. [Cheers] [Applause] They're en route out here, I can assure you.

Were I to follow standard debate tactics for the left, I would attempt to defend Rumsfeld by attacking the messenger, and point out say, for example, from Fox News:

The guardsman who questioned Rumsfeld on the vehicle armor, Spc. Thomas Wilson, had consulted earlier with a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter who is embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team.

The reporter, Edward Lee Pitts, said he had worked with guardsmen after being told reporters would not be allowed to ask Rumsfeld any questions, Pitts wrote in an e-mail to co-workers sent Wednesday.

...and wondering really how representative the question was of the true situation on the ground. But not being of that political persuasion, I won't do that. Frankly, don't need to. Its a good question, and the [Applause] after it was asked evidences that. Rumsfeld and Gen. Whitcomb did an excellent job of answering it (though again you never see the full answer reported). And I think demonstrated they are fully aware of the problem and are solving it to the best of their ability. I also find it quite interesting that today we see reports coming from the manufacturers saying they now claim they can produce these vehicles faster (imagine that!). For example, from the same Fox News article:

Military officials said Thursday they were working hard to upgrade the armor on Army vehicles in Iraq, with nearly three-fourths of the Humvees in the theater now completed.

Of more than 9,100 heavy military haulers in Iraq, Afghanistan and nearby countries, just over 1,100 have received upgraded protection, according to figures provided by the House Armed Services Committee. Armor add-on kits are in production for many of the rest of these vehicles.

By comparison, the military has decided it needs almost 22,000 armored Humvees in the war area. It has 15,334; an additional 4,400 await armor add-ons and the rest have not been delivered to the region.

Those Humvees are being built at the rate of 450 a month. The company armoring them, Armor Holdings Inc., said Thursday it could increase production by 50 to 100 vehicles a month.

Why isn't there more attention directed towards the company? If it had the capability to increase production why didn't it? A local public radio talk show (political leanings you can probably guess) this morning claimed that the company "hadn't been asked" and that it "supposed there wasn't interest". In the unlikely case this has any basis in truth, the management of this company obviously do not follow mass media's gleeful daily reporting of the casualties inflicted by roadside explosive devices. Its more likely if they did ever mention they had this capability before the finger was pointed at them, they were holding out for an exorbitant price. And then we would be undoubtedly be hearing the press yammering for Rumsfeld's head over overcharges in Humvee purchasing.

Also just noticed opinionjournal has a good op-ed today on this. Especially:
When commanders first identified the need for more armored vehicles, in August 2003, production was at 30 per month; it's now up to 450 a month and the plants making armor are running at full capacity.

There you go, case closed. Now go read the whole thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home