Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rift With Corruption

The Republican party of Lip Service with Colonel Kline in the lead (MN-R) is getting American troops killed needlessly by providing inadequate armor and now by insisting that add ons and personal purchased armor be removed.

It's unbelievable given the recent Pentagon report that our soldiers have been forbidden from buying or wearing non-standard-issue body armor that will save their lives. What's even sadder is that it has everything to do with GOP corruption.

Since SOTT DefenseWatch released a secret Marine Corps report by the Pentagon last week that determined 80% of the Marines killed in Iraq might have been saved if the Interceptor OTV body armor they were issued was more effective, the Services have ordered anyone wearing any other brand of body armor to "take it off and leave it behind" . The order came with the threat of denied death benefits (SGLI life insurance policy) as well as face disciplinary action.

Seems like a pretty harsh order that runs contrary to their best interests (not to mention survival!). Even the DoD, under severe pressure from Congress, last year authorized a one-time $1,000 reimbursement to soldiers who had purchased civilian equipment to supplement either inadequate or unavailable equipment needed for combat operations. At the time there was no restriction on what the soldiers could buy as long as it was specifically intended to offer personal protection or further their mission capabilities while in theater.

Commanders are reportedly telling their subordinates to take off protective personal armor and that they "have no choice because the orders came from very high up" and have to be enforced. Even Rumsfeld's callous "You go to war with the army you have", doesn't explain asking the Special Operations Operators, Navy SEALS, AF Special Tactics Teams, Delta Force and Special Forces to take off their personally purchased armor. But this does:

Standard issued armor to the Army and Marines comes from Armor Holdings, Inc (NYSE trading symbol: AH) with a current market value of 88 million. Almost 6% of the shares is owned by Foster Friess. Mr. Friess and family has donated more than half a million to Republicans in the past three campaign cycles. ($51,000 so far in 2006). In exchange, Armor gets an exclusive military procurement contract to supply body armor to the Army and Marines.

I would like to believe that the fact that our soldiers have been forbidden from buying or wearing non-standard-issue body armor that will save their lives, has nothing to do with any of this. But given the facts, only a fool would believe so. Daily Kos discusses how the company with the exclusive contract has exploded with profits and the owner is......a big Republican donor.

Powerlline ask the question, "How can it be that the press fawns over every pronouncement from Jack Murtha, while studiously ignoring the observations and opinions of the far more experienced and better-informed John Kline?" My answer would be Murtha's truth speaks louder than Kline's pretty words. In this specific case the lack of words or action from Kline is shameful!

Rep. John Kline as a member of the House Armed Services Committee should be leading the charge against this breaking scandal. He should be asking for an independent investigation, demanding adequate protection forsoldierslders and seeking the truth. Sadly, other than some lip service about supporting our troops, John Kline is AWOL on this subject. It's not good enough to hide behind past service when currently our troops are being asked to fight without adequate protection--hell they're dying because of inadequate armor--all for the sake of following the GOP leadership of greed.

Dragon Skin verses Interceptor Body Armor

Recently Dragon Skin became an item of contention between proponents of the Interceptor OTV body armor generally issued to all service members deploying in combat theaters and its growing legion of critics. Critics of the Interceptor OTV system say it is ineffective and inferior to Dragon Skin, as well as several other commercially available body armor systems on the market. Last week DefenseWatch released a secret Marine Corps report that determined that 80% of the 401 Marines killed in Iraq between April 2004 and June 2005 might have been saved if the Interceptor OTV body armor they were wearing was more effective. The Army has declined to comment on the report because doing so could aid the enemy, an Army spokesman has repeatedly said. (But killing our troops isn't?!)

Sensible guidelines? Or bureaucratic clamp-down? Or greed and corruption? Regardless, it's another GOP disgrace but this time there's a body count.

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