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Many are taking the exchange, along with alarming new statistics on military preparedness from the House Armed Services Committee, as proof that the Bush administration has failed to give soldiers in Iraq the equipment they need to face combat. Actually, the problem runs much deeper than the current administration: it stems from the Pentagon's uneven effort over the last decade to turn a cold-war military into a force able to meet today's challenges.
Simply put, there are no more front lines. In slow recognition, the Army purchased light armored vehicles in the late 1990's for its military police to conduct peacekeeping, and more recently spent billions of dollars to outfit several brigades with Stryker medium-weight armored vehicles, which are impervious to most small arms and rocket-propelled grenades and can be deployed anywhere in the world by airplane.
But the fact that there is no longer a front line also means there aren't any more "rear" areas where support units can operate safely. Support units must now be prepared to face the same enemy as the infantry, but are having to do so in trucks with canvas doors and fiberglass hoods because Pentagon procurement planners never expected they'd have to fight. Remember that Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the Iraq invasion's most celebrated prisoner of war, was a supply clerk with a maintenance company.
Well done, Phil! (Oh wait - it's Phillip now! ;) - Hey don't forget all us "little guys"!)