What do Bush and Rumsfeld think they are doing in failing to reimburse deployed military service men and women for body armor they bought to protect themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Do they think that this is like public school in which teachers are (wrongly) expected to cover a lot of their own classroom expenses?
According to a leading Democratic Senator, “Secretary Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense have repeatedly failed to comply with Section 351 of Public Law 108-375, which requires the implementation of a reimbursement program for members of the United States Armed Forces who have been forced to purchase their own body armor or other protective, safety or health equipment for use in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Senator Chris Dodd is trying to do the right thing by these soldiers. The best thing would be to get them out of Iraq, but these soldiers are there on Bush’s, Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s call — and they were sent without adequate defenses.
Dodd is looking for stories from soldiers who purchased their own armor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Associated Press has found some angry soldiers who resent buying their own body armor:
“Your expectation is that when you are sent to war, that our government does everything they can do to protect the lives of our people, and anything less than that is not good enough,” said a former Marine who spent nearly $1,000 two weeks ago to buy lower-body armor for his son, a Marine serving in Fallujah.
The father asked that he be identified only by his first name — Gordon — because he is afraid of retribution against his son.
“I wouldn’t have cared if it cost us $10,000 to protect our son, I would do it,” said Gordon. “But I think the U.S. has an obligation to make sure they have this equipment and to reimburse for it. I just don’t support Donald Rumsfeld’s idea of going to war with what you have, not what you want. You go to war prepared, and you don’t go to war until you are prepared.”
Under the law passed by Congress last October, the Defense Department had until Feb. 25 to develop regulations for the reimbursement, which is limited to $1,100 per item. Pentagon officials opposed the reimbursement idea, calling it “an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DOD with an open-ended financial burden.”
In a letter to Dodd in late April, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel, said his office was developing regulations to implement the reimbursement, and would be done in about 60 days.
I think that there are many Republicans and Democrats who are outraged by the poor treatment of soldiers during Rumsfeld’s tenure. I can’t imagine that John McCain or Chuck Hagel aren’t as angry as Chris Dodd.
Why — after Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the bad calls on the Iraq invasion, and now this ongoing body armor fiasco — does Donald Rumsfeld still have his job?
— Steve Clemons