I'd like to say that the Defense Department had another press briefing concerning the Armor-Gate topic today, but that would not be entirely true. It was more like a long sales presentation for anyone that did not understand what a wonderful job everyone is doing from previous briefings or DoD/AFIS news articles. When the Pentagon really wants to clear its name to the press and through the media -- utlmately to We the People who read the newspapers and watch the news reports on TV -- the Pentagon pulls out all the stops.
Watch this briefing via C-SPAN streaming video. If the link doesn't automagically work for you, read this video help page. DoD also has published a transcript. I do have to say, this one was much more informative than the one given previously by General Whitcomb in theater. C-SPAN describes this briefing:
Major General Stephen Speakes, Army G-8, Force Development, along with Brigadier General Jeffrey Sorenson, Director of Systems Management and Horizontal Technology Integration, ASA(ALT), will discuss how the Army is transforming to meet changing operational threats and specifically address the Army's strategy to armor (both Add-on Armor (AoA) and Up-Armor), its Tactical Wheeled Vehicle (TWV) fleet to meet the CENTCOM Combatant Commander's operational force protection requirements while at war. Discussions will include the three levels of protection within the light, medium and heavy tactical vehicle fleet; armor program overview in theater; production rate initiatives; and industry vendor program overview.
Once again, the Pentagon explained in great detail what the differences are when they speak of Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 armoring. However, DoD did a much better job explaining the armoring status of the vehicles themselves.
General Sorenson described the armoring status of what the DoD refers to as the light tactical fleet, the medium tactical fleet, and the heavy tactical fleet. This vehicle breakdown is basically descriptive of the vehicle's weight. Humvees are light. Long Haulers (semi trucks) are heavy.
What was unclear to me the first time around and caused concern was the armoring status of the semi trucks, or vehicles in the heavy fleet. While the armoring of the heavy fleet lags significantly behind the Humvee fleet, there are level 1 up-armor and level 2 add-on kits for the cabs of these heavy trucks.
The military focussed more attention and priority on first up-armoring the light tactical fleet, or Humvees, because the casualty rate of the soldiers driving them jumped so significantly when Iraqi insurgents increased their use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. According to General Sorenson, currently 80% of the Humvees in theater have some level of armor and DoD projects this number to be at 98% by March 2005.
This isn't a feel-good Armor-Gate updation. I have to point out that with Iraqi elections scheduled to take place January 30th, it should be common sense to expect increased terrorism and insurgent activity in Iraq as the elections near.
Watching these videos of Iraqi insurgents attacking a convoy or even just the commute around Baghdad makes me wonder just how much armored vehicles are needed in Iraq. How much armor is enough? I don't know.
Add that on top of the likelihood of more city-clearing military operations as preludes to this Iraqi election, such as in Najaf and Fallujah. I'd say it's going to get much uglier before it can get any better in Iraq. I wouldn't expect a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year. Maybe next year.
Too bad they won't be up to 98% before the election. That's when the insurgents will be going all-out.
I haven't heard much news about my cousin, other than the generic "he's doing fine." It's one of those situations when no news is good news.
J f Z December 17, 2004 08:00 AM PST General Whitcomb's Coalition Forces Land Component Command Public Affairs Office published their 15 Dec issue of the "Desert Voice" with a cover photo of Rumsfeld doing his chatacteristic pen-in-hand emphasis gesture.
There is a good article in it about the level 3 armor fabrication taking place for the tactical heavy fleet of trucks, too:
J f Z, if you want to rip on the government in general for not getting the troops what they need I'm all with you. Saying it's something new though simply isn't true. Never in the Army's entire history has it had everything the soldiers thought they needed. A large part of that history they were lucky to have enough food and proper clothing, up until Viet Nam in fact. In Nam it was getting their hunk of crap M16's replaced with the A1 and A2 models that didn't jam every third shot, today it's Humvee armor.
As a vet myself, I'm well aware why the Army coined the term snafu. So feel free to keep on the government about getting our boys better gear and don't complain when the bill comes for it. Just don't pretend it's anything other than Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.
J f Z December 18, 2004 09:46 PM PST Good point, Buzz. As a matter of fact, I think this overall situation has shown a few things.
I wasn't initially some anti-Bush freak when he got elected in 2000. I became one when he seemed to drunkenly drive the War on Terror bus off the road and into the ditch of Iraq. When it became apparent that public outrage wasn't going to change the Bush Administration's empire building policy and get our troops back home, people tried to change the administration itself in 2004. When that failed and Bush was re-elected, there is nothing left to be done in the immediate future except to continue to try to be a watchdog for our troops.
As much as some people like to rail against the liberal media elite, I believe that our broadcast news media in the country falls short of being any type of government watchdog on behalf of the public.
When networks spend only 15 seconds showing us some Baghdad file footage while the anchor says, "2 soldiers died while on a patrol today in [insert a city name here]," but then spend endless broadcast air time telling us all every minute detail of the Scott Peterson case, something bigger than the defense department's supply chain is broken in our country.
Unlike some frothing Dubya-defenders I've run across, I don't buy into the Herman Goehringesque mindset that a citizen of this country is unpatriotic for failing to believe everything at face value the Bush Administration feeds to a lazy media. I believe our troops will be in Iraq long after Bush retires to Crawford in 2008.
While it's the rule and not the esception for me to have a sarcastic tone in my blogging, I have tried to temper it. As I told one blackhawk pilot in Iraq on his blog: The country may be politically divided into red states and blue states, but don't be fooled into thinking that blue staters who loudly ranted against Bush/Cheney '04 don't have a military green heart and support our troops doing an amazing job for our country under difficult circumstances in Iraq.
J f Z December 18, 2004 10:37 PM PST Buzz, my previous comment should explain that my own political bias isn't my motivation for blogging negatively about the Bush Administration. If you want a more quantitative description, check out:
My personal politics seem to hit top dead center of that 2d model, but doesn't fit neatly in the middle of a simple straight-line liberal or conservative comparison. That was one point I somehow left out in the long comment above.
The other point was specifically about the situation I dubbed Armor-Gate. Unlike other controversial things people have pointed out about the Bush Administration, the Pentagon seems to be doing a better job explaining things on this.
Normally not so forthcoming with information or explanation for policies or situations, they did jump on top of this one to defend themselves. There are problems. But from all the DoD has put out in the press about this -- if it is to be believed -- they have been and continue to be working the problem. So, that's hopeful.
If a little publicity and outcry about armor somehow helps one soldier get home to his family stateside in one piece, then I'm willing to take any amount of heat from some quarters in the blogdom for my blogging tone while trying to present the information I happen to find.
Yeah, like I said, I'm all for disliking the state of snafu, saying so, and getting something done about it. I'm just also in favor of seeing it for the beauracratic cluster fuck that it is rather than scapegoating anyone. When people target a single person or even a single administration they tend to think the problem will go away when they do and forget about it after they're gone.
This problem starts with people not wanting to shell out tax money to properly equip them and goes all the way up the chain of decision, through Congress and the President, and back down the other side through the DoD and the brass of the individual service branches. So chewing on just the DoD or just the armor is a lot like sending a SF sniper out after Osama, bagging him, and coming home thinking you're done.
Side note here though, I'm really not sure how some folks got it into their heads that Iraq II was supposed to be quick. I pretty much took it as a given that we'd be there, in noteworthy numbers, for something like five to twelve years right from the outset.
J f Z December 19, 2004 12:29 PM PST I think some of the salsemen of Iraq II put out the impression that it was going to be a very doable cakewalk. Chalabi bending powerful ears that we would be hailed as liberators. Bush's aircraft carrier Mission Accomplished celebration. Wolfowitz in hearings saying that reconstruction would cost the tax payers nothing because Iraqi oil was going to pay for it.
Other more realistic people hestitated on the idea of going into Iraq because of Colin Powell's 'Pottery Barn' warning: "If you break it, you own it".
As far as the behemoth clusterfuck, I tried to touch on that in the original Armor-Gate entry (280.html). I put some links to defense industry companies for people to explore and maybe even a link to press release announcement of appropriations.