On March 20, 2004, Senator John Kline spoke in favor of a resolution to commend our troops. “The men and women engaged in the struggle against the War on Terrorism face a difficult challenge.”
Mr. Kline went on to say, “There are those who may have debated the U.S. role in this conflict, but now is the time to rise above divisive partisanship and send one clear message to the men and women of our armed forces. Our message is one of gratitude for what they have done and will continue to do to advance the cause of peace and protect national security. Our prayer is one for fortitude that they can persevere throughout the battle, and return safely to their families and loved ones. We commend our troops for their service as we pray for their safety.”
While Kline (like Bush) speaks pretty words, they lack substances. Our troops need more than prayers for their safety and fortitude. What our troops needed (and still do) is support and equipment to protect them. When Kline voted to send our troops into harms way, he should have also voted to make sure they were adequately armored and protected.
Many of America's 1,800 dead and 14,000 wounded were killed because they were riding in unarmored or lightly armored vehicles that are totally inappropriate to the nature of the war in Iraq. Many of the US troop families had to purchase their own loved one's body armor as our government was unable to adequately equip them. Tens of thousands of troops arrived in Iraq to find that with danger around every corner there wasn't enough body armor to protect them.
Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee testified before Congress that US forces were "not prepared" for the present conflict in Iraq and they didn't have "the preparation and hardware they needed" to fight as effectively as they could. "I also regret that we were not more farsighted here. We simply were not prepared for that kind of a counterinsurgency that attacked our convoys and our soldiers in the rear, as it has proven to be,” stated Brownlee.
This while the heaviest and deadliest divisions in the world's best Army were being ordered to leave most of their best equipment - the M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles - parked at their home bases in orderly ranks. The crews of these vehicles were ordered to abandon them and become infantry to patrol the most dangerous streets and roads in the world in unarmored Humvees. These are the same unarmored Humvees that fall victim daily to roadside bombs and small-arms fire. Their crews also are falling victim to the greed of our leaders who haven’t ensured that they were protected adequately.
Sure John Kline speaks of ‘operation enduring freedom’ but instead it’s really ‘operation enduring fear’. The fear that comes from fighting a war while being totally unprepared and inadequately equipped by our government.
This administration (Bush et al...Kline) waited through months after months of ambushes before they started manufacturing armored kits. Still today many Humvees in Iraq are protected by make shift armory that the troops have inserted and welded onto them.
The men and women engaged in this struggle as Kline stated "do face a difficult challenge". A challenged made worse by the complete lack of regard for their welfare as demostrated by the inadequate equipment and lack of protection provided to them in doing their job. Instead of words, prayers or resolutions, John Kline should have been providing armored protection and ensuring adequate support.
At $5 billion a month for this war -most of it siphoned away and sucked up by private contractors - we can't send our soldiers and Marines to war with the best equipment in the world - the equipment we already own and know how to use to great effect. Since when does it make sense to send our people into harm’s way without adequate support? I guess that decision was made at the same time we were told the decision to go to war was based on the missing WMD. In other words, lies all around.
If Mr. Kline wanted to send 'one clear message' then he should have provided for the safety of our service men and women instead of allowing them to go into war without adequate protection.
Now tell me Mr. Kline how you are going to do everything you can, spend whatever it takes, to give our sons and daughters what they need to fight and survive and prevail even in a war that makes no sense. Tell me you can at least do that. Tell me that you made some serious mistakes, Congressman John Kline, but that you are willing to do anything to correct those mistakes, straighten the record, and protect our troops.