WASHINGTON – For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is replacing body armor for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, citing a need for better protection that can withstand the strongest of attacks from insurgents, a spokesman said Saturday.
The effort, which began more than a year ago, would upgrade the protection used by more than 500,000 soldiers as well as civilian employees and news reporters. The first upgrade installed ceramic protective plates in the vests and was completed in early 2004.
Defense officials acknowledge the replacement processes have been slowed in part by debates over what is best for the troops. The current replacement is expected to take several more months to complete, said an Army official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of information affecting troop safety.
Sounds great, right? After all, regardless of our differing views on the war in Iraq I think we all want our soldiers to be as safe as possible.
But listen to how this is being spun by The New York Times:
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.
The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon’s procurement system.
The effort to replace the armor began in May 2004, just months after the Pentagon finished supplying troops with the original plates – a process also plagued by delays. The officials disclosed the new armor effort Wednesday after questioning by The New York Times, and acknowledged that it would take several more months or longer to complete.
Citing security concerns, the officials declined to say exactly how many more of the stronger plates were needed, or how much armor had already been shipped to Iraq.
“We are working as fast as we can to complete it as soon as we can,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, the Army’s deputy for acquisition and systems management, said Wednesday in an interview at the Pentagon.
The Pentagon is working to provide our troops with the very best armor available to keep them as safe as possible and the Times decides to twist the story into an insinuation that we are failing to protect our troops. Which is total crap, of course, but the media (always looking for an opening to stick it to the Bush administration) isn’t going to let little things like “reality” get in the way of sensationalist scuttlebutt.
Its not like we spend billions of dollars each year outfitting our troops with the very best equipment available or anything. After a rigorous testing and approval process, that is, which ensures that the equipment our troops get in the field is, generally, the very best available. Something that accounts for much of the “delay” the Times article alludes to.
Maybe the Pentagon should just rush every new piece of equipment directly to the field without testing or anything. Would that make the editors of the Times happy, or would they be complaining about our soldiers getting un-tried equipment?
I wonder if anybody would like to ask this fella if his armor “failed” him?
By Rob Port of Say Anything.