Prev | List | Random | Next
While some 278th soldiers were pleased about the prospect of a plane ride into Iraq, others said they didn't want to miss the ground convoy's adrenaline rush.
"That would be like going to Disney World and not riding the roller coaster," said Capt. Chris Brock, 43, human resources officer for Support Squadron.
Seems like the heirs of Davey Crockett aren't lacking courage, or a sense of history:
Soldiers are traveling into an Iraq where insurgents attack with homemade bombs placed along the roads.
"They (insurgents) are trying to attack weak convoys, not strong convoys," said Staff Sgt. Brian Culberson, 28, of Cleveland, Tenn.
He said soldiers scrounging for extra armor are not unique to this war. He recently saw a magazine article about units in Vietnam scavenging steel for their vehicles.
"They had the same problem with convoys getting hit with guerrilla warfare," Sgt. Culberson said. "The odds of us getting hit are pretty slim, but it is still an odd."
The reporter who covered the unit, and wrote the above story, is Edward Lee Pitts. According to Drudge, Pitts, who writes for the Greeneville (Tn.) Sun also planted the notorious "dumpster diving" question for Secretary Rumsfeld.
I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being "not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem." He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.
Pitts goes on to detail at length the attention shown by national media to "his troops". His worship and awe of the heroism of the national reporters is obvious from his email in the Drudge link - clearly this man knows his heroes when he sees them - though he's not afraid to draw lines in the sand. (Emphasis added below.)
The NY Times reporter asked me to email him the stories I had already done on it, but I said he could search for them himself on the Internet and he better not steal any of my lines. I have been trying to get this story out for weeks- as soon as I foud (sic) out I would be on an unarmored truck - and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press.
Too bad those "national press" guys didn't have time or space to publish the whole story of the exchange between the SecDef and Spc. Thomas Wilson:
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]
Actually it's coming up on two years, but who's counting? It's been such a roller coaster ride it seems like three years. Anyhow, here's the Secretary's reply in full:
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 it?s 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.
?It's all about duty, and he felt compelled to be over there,? she said. She said both she and her ex-husband voted for Bush in November and support him ?100%.?
But both she and Spc. Wilson's current girlfriend agree that Rumsfeld seemed "caught off guard" by the question. It's not known whether they've seen or read his actual response, or if they're victims of coverage like that produced in the NY Times:
Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked Rumsfeld, ``Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?'' Shouts of approval and applause arose from other soldiers who had assembled in an aircraft hangar to see Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.
``We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north,'' Wilson, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., concluded after asking again.
``You go to war with the Army you have,'' Rumsfeld replied, ``not the Army you might want or wish to have.''
Funny thing is, Rumsfield answered the question honestly and realistically. Not only that, but he avoided criticizing those who voted against the additional funding that may have provided these armored vehicles sooner.
He's getting drubbed in the press for being a class act. Can you see them treating a Democrat this way?
It's even more sickening that the question was actually prompted by the embedded reporter.Posted by Ranting Madman at December 10, 2004 04:56 PM
Don't have time to say much at the moment, but I wanted to let y'all know that there is some interesting material on this matter at the current home page of Soldiers for the Truth:
Thanks!Posted by Aakash at December 13, 2004 10:34 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)