Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Support the Troops

It's what Bush says he does; it's on every other car. But what does that phrase mean in the black-is-white world of this presidency? We've all read the reports about troops deploying without the proper training and equipment. Lots of it is dismissed by Republicans and their apologists/spin doctors as partisan sniping.

But what do the soldiers say? From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

A Pentagon survey shows substantial doubts among many Army Reservists about their units' preparedness for wartime missions, amid intense debate in the presidential campaign about whether U.S. troops are spread too thin.

In the survey conducted in the spring, almost half of the Army Reserve soldiers who responded said their units weren't "well prepared" for their wartime missions. Army Reservists who had served in Iraq graded their units' readiness for war even lower; only 45% of those veterans said their unit was "well prepared for its wartime mission," compared with 54% of Army Reserve members overall, the survey found.
So what's the result of such doubts about their units' readiness? What happens when soldiers don't have the equipment, training and support they need?

They die.

Or, if they are luckier than that, they can try making a statement:

The Army Reserve soldiers who refused orders last week to drive a dangerous supply route through Iraq's Sunni triangle were members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company, one of the few units in Iraq whose trucks lack protective armor, the unit's commanding general said at a news conference over the weekend.

Brig. James E. Chambers, the commander of the 13th Corps Support Command, said concerns about the lack of armor along with vehicle maintenance led the soldiers to balk at the mission. "Not all of their trucks are completely armored. In their case, they haven't had the chance to get armored," Gen. Chambers said of the unit.
It's not a great choice for a soldier.

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