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This comment regarding a Dawn Patrol link to the New York Times story on Marines who've returned from Iraq reaffirms my ever growing faith in Mudville readers:
"Marines From Iraq Sound Off About Want Of Armor And MenRight on, Don. The Times would have us believe that without them, no one would know of the logistical nightmare that is war. What? Vehicle armor shortage? Why hasn't anything been said about this before?!?
...In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story"
One click, New York Times registration. Why am I not surprised.
Has anyone missed the griping about body armor, unarmored Hummers, etc. over the past couple years? So where is this 'institutional code of silence' other than in the imagination of the [usual suspect] writer from the NYT? Bitching is an old and contiuous tradition of service. Code of Silence my eye. BTW, Napoleon's elite Old Guard were nicknamed the 'The Grumblers' for obvious reason.
Here's another telling passage:
Toward the end of their tour when half of their fleet had become factory-armored, the armor's worth became starkly clear. A car bomb that the unit's commander, Capt. Kelly D. Royer, said was at least as powerful as the one on May 29 showered a fully armored Humvee with shrapnel, photographs show. The marines inside were left nearly unscathed.So why isn't the focus of the story on the ability of the Marines and the military establishment to adapt and overcome? Finally can anyone make sense of this paragraph?
The company leaders say it is impossible to know how many lives may have been saved through better protection, since the insurgents became adept at overcoming improved defenses with more powerful weapons. Likewise, Pentagon officials say they do not know how many of the more than 1,500 American troops who have died in the war had insufficient protective gear.I get Few lives have been saved, because no amount of armor would be sufficient, and no one knows how many died due to insufficient armor. Can someone explain the point of this paragraph? And if so could you reconcile it with the previous one I quoted?
Okay - I need say no more, because fellow MilBlogger Jason Van Steenwick - who was there before the Marines - has plenty more. And without saying as much, he lays waste to that institutional code of silence garbage too. But he presents his acknowldgement of systemic military shortfalls with a focus on improving that system. If there were any qualified reporters or editors at the Times they could see the difference. "Look this is broken" Milblogger answer: "Fix it." Times answer: "We're doomed!"
The Times story tells a classic example of early failures, lessons learned, foes that adapt to enemy tactics (on both sides) and utlimately triumph. But the Times story failed to mention the triumph part - in fact it twists it into a tale of death and loss. Not a single quote from a Marine in the story supports the Time's characterization of them as whining failures. Too bad a heroic outfit had it's accomplishments and sacrifices disgraced by the New York Times - there's another lesson for military units to learn, and not repeat.
Go read Jason - no registration required.
I wonder if they think they are actually covering news? Aside from the attempt to sntach defeat from the jaws of victory, this is just a pitiful non-story.
One of the oldest canards of all about the military is
"Don't worry if the troops are bitchin', worry if they stop, 'cuz they're dead."
Uncle JPosted by Uncle Jimbo at April 25, 2005 09:00 PM
My take on the Rosetta Stone para:
Company leaders can't determine a cause and effect of improved armor because the bad guys responded by just making bigger bombs. Also there are no indication of how many KIA may have been contributed to by a lack of what someone feels is "sufficient" protective gear.
There are two purposes of this paragraph: make the military look helpless in the face of the insurgency ("it doesn't matter what we do, they just keep on killing us") and make the military look stupid and/or uncaring about its members ("gee, I dunno how many got hurt, besides, we don't care enough to research this increadibly important statistic anyway").Posted by submandave at April 25, 2005 10:10 PM
Why doesn't the military have all the equipment it needs?
Could it be because their funding was slashed by the liberals pre 9/11. Not that much has changed, they're still at it.
If I recall correctly, Clinton suggested using half the war budget to deal with AIDS in Africa at the World Eco Forum.
Remember the line about dreaming of the day when the Pentagone has to hold bake sales to buy wepons?
I'm with you on that Dave - and the purpose of the other paragraph is to show how balanced the Times is. Armor is no good, the military doesn't care, and here's an uparmored humvee that protected it's occupants.
Does the Times have a decent comics page? Is it packed full of great money saving cents-off grocery coupons? I'm really at a loss to see a motivation to purchase.Posted by Shop Target at April 25, 2005 10:23 PM
Shop Target, the Times has the best crossword puzzles going. Is that reason enough? It is for my wife so I read the whole Times piece.
I would suspect that between a quarter and a third of of our casualties since the end of the 'major combat' phase of this war were a result of equipment and tactics not keeping up with the changing strategy of the enemy. That's the way it usually works. The bad guys spring something new and it can work for a while, we learn to counter it, then they try something else new. In this school the exams on the new lessons are graded in the blood, limbs and lives of our young men and women.
Did anyone notice the graphic in the Times' article? It had a schematic of the armor on a HMMWV and claimed that with armor, a HMMWV was "capable of withstanding 155mm Howitzer rounds" (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/04/25/international/20050425_MARINES_GRAPHIC.gif)
I already sent in a note for a correction, but the fact that anyone would even consider that something the size of an SUV with 3/8" of steel plating could take a hit from a 155 mm howitzer and survive is incredible. It must be a VERY liberal definition of "survive."Posted by Zhid at April 26, 2005 01:43 AM
MAybe the Times and the other media need to start hiring some vets to do the reporting, at least they'll get the names and ranks right.
Good point, milbloggers see a problem and look for a fix, even if it hasty, I mean field expedient.Posted by SFC SKI at April 26, 2005 02:04 AM
Shortages and defective tools in combat are nothing new. In Vietnam the early version of the M-16 with an aluminum bolt caused presumed deaths from jamming. Marines fought most of the Vietnam war using World War II and Korean-era equipment. We ate c-rations left over from the Korean war. Troops often bought replacement equipment on the black market because it was faster than getting resupplied in the bush. Marines fight with what they've got and always will. At the same time they bitch about everything because that's what they do.Posted by Bill at April 27, 2005 05:45 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(8) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)