Basic Five B.E.S.T Campaign to Support the Troops

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Ever since its inception, Soldiers for the Truth (“SFTT”) has been focused on insuring that our frontline troops have the best possible equipment to accomplish their mission and come home alive safely and in one piece.  Our campaigns have been based on providing our troops with the “Best Equipment to Support the Troops,”  often referred to as our “B.E.S.T.” Campaign strategy.   While much of our recent investigative reporting has been focused on body armor, SFTT will soon be extending its investigative reporting to cover the BASIC FIVE combat equipment items necessary to properly equip our brave heroes serving in harm’s way:  Body Armor, Helmets, Rifles, Sidearms and Combat Boots. 

 

BODY ARMOR TO WARD OFF LIFE-THREATENING INJURY

When it comes to saving lives, the Military’s standard-issue body armor has been independently tested and shown to be significantly inferior to body armor worn by knowledgeable high-ranking officers, top civilian officials, their body guards, contractors in Iraq, Special Forces with discriminatory funds and others with the luxury of choice.

 

HELMETS

Standard-issue helmets which ignore current human factors engineering and are far from optimally effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries, the Iraq war’s signature injury. 

 

RIFLES THAT AREN’T JAMMERS

The CAR-4 standard-issue rifle is a modified version of the M-16, which our troops have complained about since Vietnam. Forty-five years later, impractical maintenance requirements still contribute to all-too-common jamming, a fatal flaw on the battlefield.

 

MILITARY SIDEARMS THAT SHOOT STRAIGHT

The standard-issue 9 millimeter pistol has reliability and trust problems. The bottom line: it has too often failed to stop a determined opponent.

 

COMBAT BOOTS THAT FIT THE MISSION

The standard-issue combat boot—designed to be all-purpose—is a footwear failure. When America commits to “boots on the ground,” the troops should have mission, climate and terrain-specific gear that can go the distance.

Like our ongoing investigation into body armor, it is clear that our frontline troops have deficient combat equipment and our military leadership has done little – if anything – to properly equip them for their hazardous mission.  Over the coming weeks and months we will provide you with some of our preliminary findings and I am convinced that you too will share our outrage at how our troops are presently outfitted for combat.

 I still vividly recall David’s and my outrage over Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s cynical and uncaring response to Army Spc. Thomas Wilson plea for better equipment:  “You go to war with the Army you have – not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”    We were outraged for the rest of Hack’s life and I still am!!!!

Paraphrasing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “Troops go to war with the military leadership they have – not the leadership they deserve!” It is sad to say that almost 6 years later, our military leadership hasn’t yet to take the necessary steps to provide our frontline troops with the equipment they deserve. Shame on you Secretary Rumsfeld and shame on our military leaders who continue to sidestep the safety of our troops.

Eilhys England

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US Needs Military Leaders Who Make Waves

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Was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the only one in the Pentagon that helped propel the American war in Iraq into disaster? While many have also pointed fingers at the White House, there are more profound sources of the problems. Congress should look deeper, such as at the three- and four-star Army commanders, who have much to explain. Straus Military Reform Project  Adviser Col. Douglas Macgregor (U.S. Army, Ret.) explains in a commentary published by Defense News this week. This commentary by Douglas Macgregor was originally published by Defense News on Nov. 13, 2006.

By Douglas Macgregor

Iraq is disintegrating to the point where the Bush administration can no longer conceal the truth that American ground forces are islands of impotence in a sea of sectarian violence and civil war.  In fact, the climate of hatred against Americans cultivated by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and his division commanders, generals who transformed a minor insurgency in the summer of 2003 into an Arab rebellion against the American military presence in April 2004, has now spread to the Shiite south.

How did this happen? In his book, “Fiasco,” Tom Ricks explains that generals steeped in a military culture that exalts masses of men and firepower used a meat cleaver when a scalpel was needed — a strategic catastrophe from which American policy in Iraq has never recovered.  At the center of this tragedy stands Gen. John Abizaid, presented three years ago to the American public as the general fluent in Arabic with the perfect military resume.

Years of sterling service in the light infantry of the peacetime garrison Army earned Abizaid universal approval from the influential community of retired four stars, the men who selected all of the generals commanding in Iraq since the war began. For the Bush defense team, he seemed like the perfect choice.  Yet, when Abizaid took command in the summer of 2003, he did nothing to change the destructive pattern of raids, checkpoints and intrusive patrols, actions that created far more enemies among the Arabs than they killed or incarcerated. 

His response to the shameful revelation of Abu Ghraib was tepid. Sanchez and his generals escaped accountability. When Fallujah exploded in April of 2004, providing Abizaid with a tailor-made opportunity to dominate the enemy psychologically, Abizaid advised inaction.  Then, in the summer of 2004, in an unprecedented move, another four-star general, George Casey, was assigned to command in Iraq, effectively giving Abizaid political cover. Still in overall command, Abizaid could either deny responsibility or claim credit, depending on changing conditions.

To date, other than holding seminars on Arab culture for visiting members of Congress and the administration, it’s hard to know what decisive action Abizaid has taken. Insisting that Americans allegedly win all the battles despite the daily U.S. death toll, and, in 2006, that Iraq is on the verge of civil war are patronizing statements of the obvious. What can be said of Abizaid is that he is an intelligent, hard-working person, anxious not to offend anyone, especially his superiors. And therein lies the problem.

Frustrated with generals who were unable to win a single battle in the first years of World War II, Britain’s Winston Churchill wrote angrily to the chief of the Imperial General Staff, “We must not confine appointments to high command to men whose careers have excited no hostile comment.”  Churchill knew his defeated generals were amiable men who made no waves. Eventually, he axed most of them and Britain’s situation changed.

Unfortunately, during the Vietnam War, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara did not embrace Churchill’s philosophy. Taking the generals provided by the military’s system of cronyism, Johnson and McNamara simply elevated the most sycophantic officers to four-stars, men willing to be media props for their civilian masters in return for further promotion and reward in lucrative civilian jobs after retirement.

Sadly, President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chose the path of Johnson and McNamara, and that has made all the difference.  Tactical blunders have strategic consequences and the generals have blundered badly in Iraq. In war, military strategy is supposed to reduce the probability of armed conflict, to persuade those who might fight not to fight, and when necessary, to win at the least cost in lives and treasure. In Iraq, the top generals achieved the opposite outcome.

Democrats, celebrating their control of Congress, should be thorough and judicious in their investigations of why the military occupation of Iraq has gone so terribly wrong.  They should question the accepted wisdom of the retired and active four stars that flooding Muslim Arab Iraq with hundreds of thousands of Christian Europeans in U.S. and U.K. uniform would somehow have salvaged the disastrous decision to govern Iraq with American soldiers and Marines.And they should embrace the critical need for military reform to establish a professional system of general officer selection that rewards character, competence and intelligence, not just compliance with bad ideas in return for promotion.

But whatever the Democrats do, they should reject the current schoolboy excuse we hear from active and retired generals that “Rumsfeld made me do it.”  Douglas Macgregor is a retired U.S. Army colonel, decorated combat veteran and author of books on military reform.  He writes for the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information, Washington. Author(s): Col. (Ret.) Douglas A. Macgregor, USA

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