Supporting The Troops Fail

December 10th, 2008at 09:35pm Posted by Eli

Once again, a couple of sterling examples of just how much our Republican government cares about our troops:

The military ignored steps before the invasion of Iraq that could have prevented the staggering number of casualties from roadside bombs, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general charged Tuesday.

The IG’s report says that the military knew years before the war that mines and homemade bombs, which the military calls “improvised explosive devices,” would be a “threat . . . in low-intensity conflicts” and that “mine-resistant vehicles” were available.

“Yet the military did not develop requirements for, fund or acquire” safer vehicles, the report says. The military invaded Iraq in 2003 “without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines.”

Even after the war was under way, as the devices began taking a deadly toll and field commanders pressed for vehicles that were better protected from roadside bombs, the Pentagon was slow to act, the report says.

(…)

MRAPS are bigger and heavier than the Humvees that troops have used for patrols in Iraq. They’re higher off the ground and designed to deflect an explosion.

The IG report says that the military “stopped processing” a 2005 request for 1,169 MRAPS from commanders in the field. Another request came a year later, according to a letter from Bond and Biden to Gen. James Conway, the Marine commandant.

(…)

Gayl, a former Marine, said that “gross mismanagement” delayed the use of MRAPS in combat. Otherwise, he concluded, “hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented.”

In a 2007 memo from Conway to Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top Marine said that MRAPS could cut IED casualties by 80 percent, according to Gayl.

…Or our veterans:

There was nothing dramatic about how Spc. Cristapher Zuetlau’s career in the Army came to an end: he stepped in a hole. But the damage to the tank crewman’s wrenched back was so brutal he can barely walk.

The Army agreed he was no longer fit to serve, but in doing so determined his disability was not severe enough to warrant long-term care by the military. That turned his health care over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which left him with no retirement benefits and cut off his family from government health care.

Thousands of similar stories caused veterans advocates to protest that the military was manipulating disability ratings to save money, and Congress last year ordered the Pentagon to accept appeals from wounded and injured troops.

So far, officials have yet to examine a single case.

“Congress finally took action to give those troops a fair hearing, and now the Department of Defense is dragging its feet,” said Vanessa Williamson, the policy director at New York-based Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans’ advocacy group. “Establishing the review board was clearly not the Department of Defense’s priority. And that’s a real shame.”

That’s our Bush administration: Supporting the troops as long as it’s not, y’know, too much trouble.

(h/t dakine)

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War


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