Equiping the Military
A lot is happening in the Army right now. Over on Opinion Journal, the is this editorial, Congress's Paperwork Humvees. It starts off with Rumsfeld answering a question from a soldier as follows:
When an Army reservist in Kuwait gave Donald Rumsfeld an earful Wednesday about inadequate armor for Iraq-bound Humvees, the Defense Secretary responded by paying the soldier the compliment of candor. "You go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have," he said.
Rumsfeld is right: "You never go to the war with the army you want." If you are lucky, you have enough lead time to fill in some of the shortages, whether it is in the form of personnel or materials, however, even then, you often come up with less than you would like.
The current hot-button issue in Iraq is the shortage of armored Humvee's. There are not enough to cover all of the missions they are expected to be used in, so the armored ones go to the combat missions, while the less/unarmored vehicles are used for routine missions, creating a greater vulnerability to the troops operating them.
The terrorists operating in Iraq know this, and can use this information against our troops, and that's bad. Worse still is our Congressmen who use these facts to attack the administration for personal political gain (also from Opinion Journal):
Figuring it was politically safe to slipstream behind a soldier's question, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd called Mr. Rumsfeld's comments "cavalier." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Mr. Rumsfeld to be fired--for only the 10th or 15th time. California Representative Ellen Tauscher vows to press for hearings on supply needs.
Our Military deserves the best equipment and training we can give them, after all, they are putting THEIR lives on the line. It helps to understand the importance of this if you've actually served in the military, and I'm willing to bet, even more so if you served in a combat role (I was in information services, computers, during my time on active duty). This is not to say that those who have not served can't grasp this reality, it just helps a bit.
When you are putting your life on the line for whatever reason the government asks, whether it is to hunt down terrorists like Osama bin Laden, or liberating a people from the jackbooted tyranny of the likes of Saddam Hussein (or Hitler, for that matter), they deserve the best. It could be the key to their surviving a fire fight.
To put this in terms of the computer field, you don't ask your database team to use Microsoft Access to manage a database that will contain billions of records organized in hundreds (or thousands) of tables. You give them a database engine designed to handle that kind of load.
The same is true with military operations. You send the troops out with the best equipment, the best armor and the best training. You don't send them out equipped with spitballs (thank you Zell Miller for that analogy!).
You also send them out with clear objectives, with number one being come back alive and number two being kill the enemy.
Fortunately, some of the shortages may be getting resolved. There is an article over on Military.com on new contracts for humvees.
The Army entered negotiations with an armor manufacturer Friday in an effort to accelerate production of armored versions of the Humvee to get them to the troops more quickly, Army and company officials said.
Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey spoke with officials at Armor Holdings, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., who told him Friday they could increase production by up to 100 vehicles a month.
Although it may not be immediately possible for the armor manufacturer to increase their output to this level, negotiating and pushing for these increases is definitely a step in the right direction.