Troops without proper equipment in 2004, troops without proper equipment in 2009 – where’s the outrage?

In our 8th year of war, a war without apparent purpose or an obvious endpoint, we repeat the same mistakes — again, and again.  After eight years of war (longer than WWII) perhaps our trillion-dollar military should have gotten better at this.  Esp since the numbers deployed in Afghanistan are so small compared to our invasion of Iraq.  As an extreme (and hopefully rare example), there are rumors that some soldiers have arrived and experienced delays in the issue of ammo for their rifles.  Nothing like carrying an empty weapon to build morale.

Will the mainstream media pursue problems with Obama’s war as strongly as they did with Bush’s war?  Compare and contrast.  Hat tip to Lee Cary at the American Thinker, 16 May 2009.

Outrage then:  Troops’ Queries Leave Rumsfeld On the Defensive“, New York Times, 9 December 2004 — Excerpt.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld came here Wednesday to lead a morale-lifting town hall discussion with Iraq-bound troops. Instead, he found himself on the defensive, fielding pointed questions from soldiers complaining about aging vehicles that lacked armor for protection against roadside bombs.

Mr. Rumsfeld, seemingly caught off guard by the sharp questioning, responded that the military was producing extra armor for Humvees and trucks as fast as possible, but that the soldiers would have to cope with equipment shortages. ”You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time,” he said.

… ”Why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?” Specialist Wilson asked Mr. Rumsfeld, drawing cheers and applause from many of the 2,300 soldiers assembled in a cavernous hangar here to meet the secretary.

A few minutes later, a soldier from the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Armored Cavalry Brigade asked Mr. Rumsfeld what he and the Army were doing ”to address shortages and antiquated equipment” that will affect National Guard soldiers heading to Iraq.

Mr. Rumsfeld seemed taken aback by the question and a murmur began spreading through the ranks before he silenced it. ”Now, settle down, settle down,” he said. ”Hell, I’m an old man, it’s early in the morning and I’m gathering my thoughts here.”

… But the complaints by the soldiers here are likely to revive accusations that the Bush administration did not anticipate the kind of tenacious insurgency confronting troops in Iraq, and that the Pentagon is still struggling to provide enough basic supplies, such as body armor, and fortified Humvees and other vehicles.

Gentle questions now:  Gates: Afghan-bound US troops outpacing equipment“, AP, 7 May 2009 — Excerpt:

Thousands of U.S. troops are being rushed to Afghanistan without the equipment they will need to fight an emboldened Taliban, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military officials said Thursday.

The equipment delay is “a considerable concern,” Gates said as he toured a dusty forward base in south Afghanistan where some 200 newly deployed Marines and sailors are arriving each day as part of the buildup of 21,000 new U.S. troops.

Marines who arrived in southern Afghanistan this week mark the vanguard of the expansion Obama has ordered to reverse a war his commanders say they are not winning. Pentagon officials said the initial Marine units are small advance parties, to be followed by much larger waves of forces in the coming weeks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe troop movements.

“I heard this on several occasions today, that the equipment is coming in behind the troops and is not here and available for them when they arrive,” Gates said at a news conference Thursday night in Kabul before a fly-around through bases in Afghanistan.

Gates attributed the delays to “the amount of equipment that has to be brought in and, frankly, the relatively limited infrastructure in terms of airfields and so on of how to get it in here.”

Despite concerns about pressing U.S. military needs in Iraq and insurgents’ interference with supply lines, the real problem has been “more a logistical challenge than it is anything else,” Gates said. He promised to pursue the problem after he returns to Washington on Saturday.

… The Pentagon has already been grappling with how to beef up mine-resistant patrol trucks that have shown success in Iraq but are not resilient enough to withstand Afghanistan’s hilly and rugged terrain.

The equipment shortage leaves U.S. troops vulnerable as the Taliban and other extremist groups are ramping up attacks with Afghanistan national elections approaching.


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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest these days:

Posts about our wars in Afghanistan:

  1. Scorecard #2: How well are we doing in Iraq? Afghanistan?, 31 October 2003
  2. Quote of the day: this is America’s geopolitical strategy in action, 26 February 2008 — George Friedman of Statfor on the Afghanistan War.
  3. Another perspective on Afghanistan, a reply to George Friedman, 27 February 2008
  4. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008
  5. Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
  6. We are withdrawing from Afghanistan, too (eventually), 21 April 2008
  7. Roads in Afghanistan, a new weapon to win 4GW’s?, 26 April 2008
  8. A powerful weapon, at the sight of which we should tremble and our enemies rejoice, 2 June 2008
  9. Brilliant, insightful articles about the Afghanistan War, 8 June 2008
  10. The good news about COIN in Afghanistan is really bad news, 20 August 2008
  11. Stratfor says that our war in Pakistan grows hotter; Palin seems OK with that, 12 September 2008
  12. Pakistan warns America about their borders, and their sovereignty, 14 September 2008
  13. Weekend reading about … foreign affairs, 19 October 2008
  14. “Strategic Divergence: The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda” by George Friedman, 31 January 2009
  15. America sends forth its privateers to pillage, bold corsairs stealing from you and I, 9 February 2009  

3 thoughts on “Troops without proper equipment in 2004, troops without proper equipment in 2009 – where’s the outrage?”

  1. Well, this is a hard one . . . One difference may be that in 2004, the issue had to be highlighted by soldiers querying the Secretary of Defense (who gave an answer many perceived as flippant) — in this case, the issue is highlighted by the Secretary himself during a visit to the combat zone. Might this indicate a little higher degree of attention and urgency to overcoming the problems? Believe the pseudo-outrage over this issue indicates not only the usual partisan lining-up, but actual or feigned ignorance of the magnitude of the logistical challenges facing us in Afghanistan. This logistics piece is far more relevant to your very good questions elsewhere regarding the broad strategy for the region.

  2. Pilfering supplies is nothing new.

    For example, during Elizabeth I’s wars in the low countries, one of her courtiers, Sir Thomas Sherley, routinely pilfered large amounts.

    According to Wikipedia:

    However, soon afterwards Shirley found himself in considerable financial difficulties which eventually swallowed the family fortune. In 1586 Queen Elizabeth I appointed Sir Thomas Treasurer-at-War to the English forces serving in the Netherlands during the Dutch Revolt. This gave him the power to speculate with the funds that passed through his hands (a normal perk of office at this period), but he so mishandled them that he contracted massive debts to the Crown and found himself accused of fraud. His estate, including Wiston House, was sequestered in 1602, though he continued to live at Wiston until his death in 1612.

    Shirley also was a member of parliament. Although Wikipedia characterizes his career there as “not distinguished,” he made one contribution. After having been arrested for debt, his colleagues thereupon forcibly liberated him, thereby establishing the principle that no sitting member of Parliament could be subject to arrest.

    Ancestor of the last peer of the realm actually to be hanged, Shirley had three equally flamboyant sons, Thomas, Anthony, and Robert.

  3. Kind of difficult to make a judgment here based on the paucity of specifics (“comm gear” is about the only one). “Equipment” could be anything from APCs to personal protective gear. Typically mounted troops arrive shortly before their vehicles so they can collect them from the offload point. This story is from the AP (a liberal propaganda organ, not a news organization) so it’s hard to tell.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Yes, we don’t know much about this. Note that Gates admits there is a problem. Also, I have heard second-hand stories of logistic problems from reliable sources, indicative of a problem but nothing yet serious.

    However, the point of the post is that the mainstream media is not chasing stories concerning Obama’s wars as they did Bush’s wars. A double-standard.

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