[Mb-civic] U.S. Stance on Armor Disputed
michael at michaelbutler.com
Fri Dec 10 16:11:09 PST 2004
Also see below:
Dodd Says Rumsfeld's Answer Was Unacceptable
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U.S. Stance on Armor Disputed
By Bryan Bender
The Boston Globe
Friday 10 December 2004
Company says vehicle orders waiting for OK.
Washington - Despite Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's assertion
that the military is outfitting Humvees with armor as quickly as possible,
the company providing the vehicles said it has been waiting since September
for approval from the Pentagon to increase monthly production by as many as
100 of the all-terrain vehicles, intended to protect against roadside bombs
Army officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged
yesterday that they have not approved new purchase orders for armored
trucks, despite the company's readiness to produce more. They said the
Pentagon has been debating how many more armored Humvees are needed.
Rumsfeld, questioned by soldiers in Kuwait on Wednesday who said they
have had to pick through landfills for scrap metal to boost vehicle
protection, said the Army was working as quickly at it could to get armored
Humvees to the front. It is "a matter of physics, not a matter of money,"
Rumsfeld said, adding that the Army was "breaking its neck." President Bush
yesterday reiterated that "the concerns expressed are being addressed."
But executives at Armor Holdings in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as Army
officials and members of Congress, said Rumsfeld's assertion that the
protective equipment is being provided as quickly as possible is not true
and added the company has been waiting for more purchase orders.
"We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month," Robert
Mecredy, head of Armor Holdings' aerospace and defense unit, said in a
statement. The company is producing about 450 armored Humvees per month, up
from 50 in late 2003, when a sudden surge of attacks in Iraq exposed a lack
of protective armor.
The company says that by February it could be producing as many as 550
fully armored Humvees per month - with armor plates on the sides, front,
rear, top, and bottom - if given the go-ahead. The company estimated it
would cost the military about $150 million a year to pay for the additional
100 vehicles per month.
The company said it also told the Army it could add new production
lines and turn out even more vehicles.
More than half of the roughly 1,200 US soldiers who have died in Iraq
have been killed by roadside bombs or in ambushes from rocket-propelled
grenades. A lack of armor on thousands of older vehicles has been blamed for
many of the deaths.
In an unusual public airing of grievances, Specialist Thomas Wilson, a
member of the 278th Regimental Combat Team of the Tennessee National Guard,
took Rumsfeld to task Wednesday at a meeting at Camp Buehring in Kuwait,
where his unit is preparing to deploy to Iraq.
"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," he
told the Pentagon chief.
Rumsfeld told the troops the Army was doing all it could to get armor
protection to the front, but was quickly criticized as sounding callous for
telling them, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might
In an e-mail circulated yesterday, Chattanooga Times Free Press
reporter Edward Lee Pitts, who is embedded with the 278th, boasted to
colleagues that he had collaborated with the troops to formulate a series of
tough questions for the Pentagon chief.
The Pentagon expressed regret that some soldiers, including Wilson,
were apparently provided questions beforehand. "Town Hall meetings are
intended for soldiers to have dialogue with the Secretary of Defense,"
Rumsfeld's spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said in a statement. "It would be
unfortunate to discover that anyone might have interfered with that
opportunity, whatever the intention."
Nevertheless, Bush yesterday agreed that the soldiers' concerns were
legitimate. "If I were a soldier overseas wanting to defend my country, I'd
want to ask the secretary of defense the same question, and that is, are we
getting the best we can get us?" Bush told reporters in the Oval Office.
The Army maintained yesterday that it has undertaken a program to
provide troops in Iraq with armored transportation since August 2003, when
it became apparent that the quick victory in toppling Saddam Hussein was
turning into a guerrilla war with frequent ambushes. The Third Army
commander said the Pentagon first shipped all its armored Humvees, usually
reserved for military police units, from bases around the world to Iraq
before beginning to produce 50 armored Humvees per month.
The numbers increased over time to 450 per month, but there were
periodic delays in upping production as the Pentagon kept reassessing its
Yesterday, the Pentagon was clearly on the defensive. Lieutenant
General R. Steven Whitcomb, commander of the Third Army, said in a video
briefing from Kuwait that commanders are not sending any more wheeled
vehicles to Iraq without armor protection for their Humvees or trucks.
Of the 30,000 estimated wheeled vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, about
8,000 of the older models do not have armor protection. Of those that are
protected, about 6,000 have full protection, while about 10,000 vehicles
have received "add-on kits" providing front, rear, and side protection, but
not top and bottom.
At the same time, 4,500 vehicles have received what Whitcomb called a
"stopgap" measure, taking locally manufactured steel plates and bolting or
welding them on the vehicles.
"We accept our responsibility to get our troops the best protection
that we can," Whitcomb said.
The Army's Tank-Automotive Command in Warren, Mich., which purchases
Humvees and trucks for all the military services, said many more
fully-protected vehicles are needed. The military needs 8,105 so-called "up-
armored" Humvees such as those being outfitted by Armor Holdings. Currently,
there are about 5,900 up-armored Humvees in Iraq. As for those with "add-on
kits," 13,872 Humvees in Iraq are needed, but only 9,100 have received the
Pentagon spokesman Don Jarosz said he could not immediately explain why
more orders have not been placed for the fully armored Humvees. But defense
officials who asked not to be identified blamed bureaucratic delays in
determining how many orders should be placed.
Representative Marty Meehan of Lowell and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana,
Democratic members of the armed services committees, said yesterday they
have talked repeatedly with Armor Holdings and informed the Pentagon as long
ago as April that top officials were mistaken about how many Humvees with
the best armor protection could be produced.
"That's just not true," Bayh told reporters in a teleconference,
referring to Pentagon assertions that it is moving as quickly as possible.
Bayh, who raised the issue of production capacity with Rumsfeld in an
Oct. 6 letter, said he could not explain whether the failure to increase
production was due to "bureaucratic ineptitude" or simply "general denial"
about the magnitude of the need.
Meehan said of Armor Holdings: "They have never been at full
production. They haven't received an order from the Pentagon despite telling
them they can do that. They told them in September. Rumsfeld claiming that
there is a production limit is not true. There is production capacity that
isn't being used."
Michael Fox, a spokesman for Armor Holdings, said the company is simply
waiting for the Pentagon to say how many it needs: "We have always said,
'Tell us how much you want, and we'll build them.' "
Brian Hart, whose son John, a Bedford native, was killed when his
unarmored Humvee ran over a roadside bomb in Iraq in October 2003, said the
failure to produce armored Humvees and trucks at maximum capacity is
emblematic of the administration's broader failure to fully face reality in
"We are the largest economy in the world," he said yesterday. "It is
inconceivable we can only get a few hundred vehicles out the door in a
Go to Original
Dodd Says Rumsfeld's Answer Was Unacceptable
The Associated Press
Friday 10 December 2004
Capitol Hill - A Democratic senator isn't satisfied with the answer
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave to a U.S. soldier in Kuwait today.
The soldier complained that he and his comrades had to dig through
landfills for scrap metal and other material to reinforce their vehicles.
Rumsfeld responded, "You go to war with the Army you have."
That's not good enough for Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut -
who's written a letter to Rumsfeld, saying that his answer was "utterly
Dodd says it's up to the government to provide safety equipment for
soldiers in battle. He said, "Our troops go to war with the Army that our
nation's leaders provide."
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