Wednesday, October 01, 2003
::: Mother's of American GIs Still Mailing Packages :::
::: But The Contents Differ Wildly From Previous Conflicts :::
Damn them! The list grows daily ... the list of abuses heaped on the troops we sent
to Iraq to defend this country, liberate that country, get rid of Saddam, grab the oil,
or whatever today's reasoning is. I say again ... Damn them!
The packages arriving in Iraq nowadays contain not cookies or cake, but a variety of
gear that should have been provided by our military. Oh, just minor items, I've heard,
like individual body armor to replace the Vietnam-era flak jackets issued to many of
[...] In speeches, President Bush has attributed the record federal budget deficit, in part, to his insistence that U.S. soldiers have the resources they need: "My attitude is, any time we put one of our soldiers in harm's way, we're going to spend whatever is necessary to make sure they have the best training, the best support and the best possible equipment." When Bush later taunted gunmen in Iraq to "bring it on," many GIs must have nervously tugged at their obsolete flak jackets. [...]
The betrayal of this administration just turns my stomach inside out as I am sure it does the
parents of sons and daughters serving in Iraq. As reported by Jonathan Turley, L.A. Times:
[...] Like many other U.S. service members in Iraq, her [Suzanne Werfelman] son was given a Vietnam-era flak jacket that cannot stop the type of weapons used today. It appears that parents across the country are now purchasers of body armor because of the failure of the military to supply soldiers with modern vests.
Werfelman's son, Army Spc. Richard Murphy, is a military policeman in Iraq. He was also one of my law students last year before being sent off for a 20-month stint. Upon their arrival, members of Murphy's unit were shocked to learn that they would be given the old Vietnam-era vests rather than the modern Interceptor vest. (They were also given unarmored Humvees, which are vulnerable to even small-arms fire.) Military officials admit that the standard flak jacket could not reliably stop a bullet, including AK-47 ammunition, used in Iraq and the most common ammunition in the world.
Developed in the late 1990s, the Interceptor vest is made of layered sheets of Kevlar with pockets in front and back for ceramic plates to protect vital organs. These vests - one-third lighter than the old ones - have stopped machine-gun bullets, shrapnel and other ordnance.
They can mean the difference between living and dying, [...]
Even when the troops were provided with the Interceptor vests, they were missing the
essential ceramic plates. As a result, Werfelman bought plates for her son for $650 so
he would have basic protection. The workers at one armor company told her they had
been deluged with requests from parents trying to buy vests and plates for their sons
and daughters overseas. Some desperate soldiers, who had received plates from home,
but had not been issued the vests, resorted to using duct tape to attach them to
the backs of their Vietnam-era flak jackets.
Unfortunately this is the mere tip of the iceberg on the blatant abuse of our troops. It is
no wonder the L.A. Times reporter, who sounds as angry as I am, suggested the following:
[...] One approach might guarantee results. Any member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who does not secure such vests for his service should be required to sit at an outdoor cafe in Tikrit and drink a cup of tea while wearing an old flak jacket. That might focus the general staff on the problem more concretely.
Once the government makes sure all our soldiers receive vests, only one thing would remain: Someone should send Suzanne Werfelman $650 and an apology.
And there is this from William R. Pitt on Rush Limbaugh's comments re dead soldiers:
We forget, of course, that death is a growth stock for George W. Bush. Death gives him political cover to ramrod through his extremist policies. Death makes Americans fear to question him. Death makes for good television. In Iraq, death fills the coffers of corporations like Vice President Cheney's Halliburton.
One would think that the death of American soldiers in Iraq would bode ill for Bush and his administration. Not so, counters apologist Rush Limbaugh:
"Folks, we're getting a daily death update out of Iraq, and we're hearing slogans like, ÂOne a day, and ÂOur troops are being slaughtered, from the Democrats, as their willing accomplices in the press try to concoct this notion that the casualty rate over there is outrageous and intolerable. The following statistics come from the Centers for Disease Control website: On a daily basis, on average, 10 Americans die by drowning, and nine Americans die by fire in their homes. 14 Americans die by pedestrian accidents. 27 Americans die in falls. On average, 50 Americans a day are murdered. 118 die in auto accidents, and 25 people die from A.I.D.S. every day, on average. Yesterday, two Americans died in battle in Iraq."
In short, Rush would have us believe these dead American boys are no big deal. [...]
To be fair Congress is trying to address some of the wrongs heaped upon our
current soldiers and our veterans. Since Americans have been flooding their
offices with calls and emails, they have been kind enought to tack onto the
shockingly awsome $87 Billion appropriations request provisions to cease
the practice of charging our soldiers wounded in action for the food they consume
at the rate of $8.10 per day at Walter Reed ... the bill being presented upon their
release from the hospital.
Plus ... another bonus ... they are rethinking the great idea of cutting the pay
(hazard or combat or extra dangerous?) and the supplements to thefamilies of
soldiers called to service. Isn't that sweet? ... I think so, since I have read and
seen reports of military families on food stamps, and the reservist being fired
from their jobs back home.
And further on the subject of caring parents ... there are the comments by
Barbara Bush reported by Helen Thomas from an interview with Diane
Sawyer on ABC.
On March 18, two days before the U.S. invasion, Barbara Bush had an interview with ABC-TV's Diane Sawyer.
''Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's gonna happen?'' Mrs. Bush declared. ''It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?'' Maybe she is right, but I don't think so.
Hmmmm ..... This woman is our President's MOM ... and our President's DAD ... he
is the one who refers to us as OFUs or Ordinary Fodder Units ... just thought I would
Ok, so I feel better now that I have ranted to all you fine folks. It is just a shame the
fellows mentioned below don't have you guys to pound on when they are feeling a
bit shafted by Rummy's new, forward leaning military. This is a report from
U. S. Troops On The Ground in Iraq
"These guys shot at some of our guys, so we lit 'em up. Put two .50-cal rounds in their vehicle. One went through this dude's hip and into the other guy's head," explains Brunelle. The third man in the car lived. "His buddy was crying like a baby. Just sitting there bawling with his friend's brains and skull fragments all over his face. One of our guys came up to him and is like: 'Hey! No crying in baseball!'"
"I know that probably sounds sick," says Sellers, "but humor is the only way you can deal with this shit."
And just below the humor is volcanic rage. These guys are proud to be soldiers and don't want to come across as whiners, but they are furious about what they've been through. They hate having their lives disrupted and put at risk. They hate the military for its stupidity, its feckless lieutenants and blowhard brass living comfortably in Saddam's palaces. They hate Iraqis--or, as they say, "hajis"--for trying to kill them. They hate the country for its dust, heat and sewage-clogged streets. They hate having killed people. Some even hate the politics of the war. And because most of them are, ultimately, just regular well-intentioned guys, one senses the distinct fear that someday a few may hate themselves for what they have been forced to do here.
Added to such injury is insult: The military treats these soldiers like unwanted stepchildren. This unit's rifles are retooled hand-me-downs from Vietnam. They have inadequate radio gear, so they buy their own unencrypted Motorola walkie-talkies. The same goes for flashlights, knives and some components for night-vision sights. The low-performance Iraqi air-conditioners and fans, as well as the one satellite phone and payment cards shared by the whole company for calling home, were also purchased out of pocket from civilian suppliers.
Bottled water rations are kept to two liters a day. After that the guys drink from "water buffaloes"--big, hot chlorination tanks that turn the amoeba-infested dreck from the local taps into something like swimming-pool water. Mix this with powdered Gatorade and you can wash down a famously bad MRE (Meal Ready to Eat).
Gee ... it is time ... Granny, ruled by her stomach (no M.R.E. for me) ... supper is ready!