Thursday, December 09, 2004

I'm still with Rummy

The NYTimes' top International headline reads, "Troops' queries leave Rumsfeld on the defensive," and the AP writes, "US GIs hit Rumsfeld with hard questions."

I don't understand why the uparmored vehicle question is big news today, but not every other time it's been asked.

Here's an excerpt from the 13 May townhall meeting with the SECDEF and GEN Myers that I attended here at Camp Victory:

Q Sir, my unit, the 2nd Brigade -- (off mike) -- Cav, we have five out of the six red zones in this country. And with the up- armored humvees, the new -- (off mike) -- humvees they're bringing over with the -- (off mike) -- those doors are not as good as the ones on the up-armored humvees -- (off mike). We even lost quite -- we lost some soldiers due to them, and we're trying to make a change -- (off mike). The question is, are we going to get more up-armored humvees?

Thank you.

GEN. MYERS: Good points. Excellent points.

You can imagine we spend a lot of time on force protection, and our responsibility, I think, is to ensure we have the resources and protection lines and all that cranked up to get the equipment we need.

You do not have all the up-armored humvees you need. You got about -- around 3,000 out of the 4,400 roughly that they want over here, that your leaders want. Production is ramping up this month. I think it's around 220, 225 per month. We've gathered them from all other services that had them except for a few we held back for a nuclear security role back in the United States. The rest of them shipped over here. We're trying to get them to you as fast as we can.

It's not a matter of resources, it's a matter of how fast can we build these things and get them over here. And I review that probably daily, the status of those machines and that equipment that can help.

So we're trying. We're trying hard. And we understand -- I understand exactly everything you said, and we'll do our best. And that's our responsibility. (Applause.)

Here's yesterday's transcript:

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

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'm sure he's taken this question on other occasions as well, but I haven't searched the archives to find them.

Maybe the hubbub is due to the fact that GEN Myers fielded the question in May and Secretary Rumsfeld took it yesterday. This is really immaterial though, since the SECDEF was the headliner at both events.

The uproar could also stem from the terms the Soldier used when asking the question or his tone, but I've only seen one video clip from yesterday, and obviously the transcript cannot relay tone of voice, so I can't really say.

From the answers to the question, it appears that the rate of production of armor for vehicles has almost doubled in the last 8 months, and this DOD article puts the current monthly number at 450, but that didn't make any stories I saw.

I've been wrong on many occasions, but it sure seems to me that the media is whipping something up here, and trying to portray our troops as unsupportive and even hostile to our Secretary of Defense, and I don't like it.

Update: If you didn't see it already on Powerline, check out SGT Missick for a first hand account of the SECDEF's townhall.