Saturday, February 16, 2008

How we value the worth of our soldiers

Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.

The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years.

Cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down the request for the so-called MRAPs, according to the study. Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded.

After Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the MRAP (pronounced M-rap) the Pentagon's No. 1 acquisition priority in May 2007, the trucks began to be shipped to Iraq in large quantities. (Source: Huffington Post, emphasis mine.)

I'm trying to figure that out. Really I am. Basically, you have guys out in the army field, in 2005, who were saying "Hey, we're getting killed out there - we need better vehicles!"

And the response is "Well, sorry about you guys dying, but we need that money to pay for new vehicle programs for vehicles coming out in the future! So, just bleed slower or something!"

Wait - I forgot: this is all part of the "supporting the troops". Not enough of them, not enough body armor for them, not good enough vehicles for them, not enough mental health support for when they get back, not enough educational funding for them when they get back (or, bringing them back just before their benefits would kick in), not enough money for their families while they fight overseas.

We can only hope that the Bush Administration doesn't try to support the troops any more - because if this is how they do it, the troops are better off without them.

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