It Depends On Your Definition of "Support The Troops" - By Michael Gaddy - Price of Liberty
It Depends On Your Definition of "Support The Troops"
By Michael Gaddy

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May 26, 2004

It would appear that our past two presidents have had a real problem with the definition of certain words. With Clinton it was that darn pesky word; is. Now it would appear that Dubya is having trouble with the word chaos.

He knew that in his speech to the nation last night he had to prepare the big dumb middle in this country for increasingly terrible news that will be pouring forth from Iraq in the next few months. He said that at times events there may “appear to be chaotic.” To even the untrained eye of anyone who is not in the pocket of the Republican Party, the entire episode of Iraq has been nothing but chaos.

First, we have a war perpetrated in the bowels of the White House by people who totally ignored any evidence that did not fit their needs. Evidence that did not exist was fabricated and anyone in the military who did not toe the line was dismissed. Ever heard the saying about fruit from a poisonous tree?

That is what we have in Iraq. Everything is chaos. We have had more deaths since Bush declared the hostilities “over” than we did during "the war". The man all the Neocons love and adore, and who provided them with the rotten Intel that led to this fiasco, has now been determined by the Defense Intelligence Agency to be working with the Iranians!

It seems that we have done the folks in Iran a huge favor by getting rid of their old nemesis, Saddam. Since the majority of folks in both Iraq and Iran are Shiites, it would appear we have stepped in it with both feet!

But, back to definitions. The absolute worse phrase to come out of this mess is “ supporting the troops.” Bush and the Neocons want to be sure we all support the war. In order to insure that in their minds, they must insist that supporting the war is supporting the troops. They actually don't give a damn about the troops, as the letter included in this article will show.

Someday, perhaps before it is too late, Americans will realize that all the people who run the State are concerned with nothing but money. If it takes the blood of our children to grease the wheels of the military industrial complex so it and their cronies can prosper financially, then so be it.

The following is a letter I received from a soldier who recently returned from service in Iraq. He was evacuated medically some weeks ago. My history with this fine young man goes back several years. I sought to counsel him as to his career choice, using my similar experiences as a guideline. Almost two years ago, our correspondence all but dried up. I could detect from his words that he did not agree with my assessment of the coming war in Iraq. He was young and thought that he was going out to defend liberty. I could not be too critical as that had been my thought some 39 years ago as I headed off to Vietnam.

When you finish this letter you might want to ask yourself: Where the hell is all the money we are sinking into the military these days and why are our soldiers doing without? Then ask yourself: What the hell are we doing there and who the hell is in charge?

This letter is the first of several to come. I have left it just as I received it. Please pardon the military jargon, but this is the way it came.

“Sergeant Major,
Here's the first installment of info that y'all probably aren't hearing about. If you wish for me to stop sending info let me know. I just want the truth, not the lies to be heard.

Protection Scam:
Before the 4th Infantry Division deployed, its soldiers were told it had the best equipment and best training to "get the job done" in Iraq. Upon arriving in Kuwait the division was no more ready for what was about to happen than it was ready for a dress parade at Fort Meyer. Besides none of the initial deployment units (Division Cavalry, Division TOC, and support units) equipment being delivered properly, it had recieved NO training in the mission it was going to participate in. Nor was it equipped properly. I will go into the fiasco, of units that were still a month from getting to kuwait having their vehicles off the boats first and clogging the port, later.

The initial move out of Kuwait was nothing new to 4th ID. The convoy of HETs were miles long, so it was nothing different from Fort Hood, where tracked vehicles can't drive more than a mile without being placed on a HET. April through May was regular Combat. 4ID secured Baghdad, 3ID was reporting "Black" on everything from fuel to Food. So 4ID was unloaded and sent in. From there it attacked north to Taji Airfield and army barracks, then K2 depot. "Major Combat" ceased as you well know on May 1st, but Someone didn't tell the Iraqis that. You know the casualties we sustained for the next 11 months.

This is the story you didn't get. This is about several casualties that were sustained because of the lack of proper equipment. You have seen the flack vests that some of the soldiers wear in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is from Point Blank Industries. They are called IBAS. It is a three piece system. One is the ballistic vest that is rated to stop a 9mm Pistol round. The other two parts are Ceramic Plates that are inserted in front and back. these are rated to stop a 7.62mm round. They weigh together about 8 pounds with the vest a little over 10 pounds. When 4ID Deployed the majority of it's Ground Combat units had the Vietnam era "Flack Vests" which as you know are rated to stop a spit ball, as long as a 2 year old is shooting it at you.

While working as an assistant in a supply shop, I was seeing several million dollar contracts opened to produce anything and everything to stop the effects of IEDs. Ballistic blankets, sheets of iron to weld to vehicles (making the Gun trucks of the Vietnam era) Oh and I almost forgot the weeks of trying to get the Perfume Princes' air conditioned trucks that are command posts and sleeper vans. All the while soldiers were still sleeping in the sand.

I digress, the point is we were spending millions on everything but what the basic soldier needed to survive. I asked the painful questions and got alot of "Shut the F** up" from my supiriors. Finnally a well informed officer pulled me aside and explained why we were spending so much on everything but the IBAS. Seems 4ID had opened contract after contract and requisition after requisition for the IBAS with plates. Seems that everytime the order was sent, it was stopped at the stateside Depot and sent to other units "preparing to deploy" These included the Army's golden boys, the 1st Cavalry Division, 82nd Airborne, National Guard, and Reserve elements. No priority was allowed to go to deployed units. This is a lesson we learned in Blood.

In a very very bad July night, a company (minus) in my battalion was holding a "Position" which is to say it wasn't in an FOB (sort of like a fire base minus the artillery.) They had occupied a building in a town as bad a Hue in Tet '68. They were being hit three, sometimes four times a day in concerted attacks. This isn't counting the constant sniping, mortaring, rocketing, and rock throwing. But they held fast, and served with unparalled distinction in 4ID. This one night they were ordered to conduct TCP (Traffic Control Point) Operations. So two were set up along the main drag in town. these were supported by Armored vehicles so they were safe from basic ground attacks.

As night fell the insergents in the area got hopped up on visions of dying for allah and started shooting. The TCPs were reporting sporatic ground fire, but the element TOC was taking the brunt. Several hours passed and the night got darker (nights in the desert, as you well know, can be as dark as any in a jungle). RPG fire and tracers began arcing their way to the Occupied house. as the fire became more accurate, the Observation posts began reporting seeing the source of the fire. There was no fire support and Aviation was a Brigade Asset. So to stop the deadly fire a reaction force was sent forward. It was a combined arms assault consisting of Dismounted troops, and Armor. They secured the area and somehow captured several insurgents who forgot to die for allah.

As they were returning to the House they came under intense heavy weapons fire. Seems almost a trap was set. they had the element pinned down between the armored vehicles and the Occupied house. No supporting fire could be given. the dismounted element consisting of a 1LT, a Medic, and several dismounted combat troops fought back and the fire susided, but as they were making a quick dash for safety with the prisioners, the fire started back again. the 1LT, good kid and good officer, was hit dead center of his chest with a 7.62mm round. It did it's job effectively. He died in the arms of a medic no older than 19. The other medic was hit in the initial contact of the trap. He sustained a leg wound from a 12.5mm Machine Gun. Two of the prisioners were also killed. But the 1LT is what gets my goat.

During my time in Iraq, I saw first hand soldiers wearing IBAS take multiple hits from 7.62x39 and 7.62x54 rounds. They were knocked down, they were pissed and bruised, but ALIVE. This LT was hit from ONE ROUND. It penetrated his Vietnam Era vest and blew out his back. You have seen this and you know the odds for survival. If he had been issued the IBAS with plates as the units who didn't show up until months later, he would be alive today with his wife. The after shock from this was massive. My unit was "rushed" the IBAS vests minus plates. It wasn't until October that plates were coming in at a trickle. I had to get my plates from a REMF that was ETSing from Iraq. I couldn't report my small element having 100% plates and vests until late November early December. this was unacceptable.

On my way out of Iraq (due to medevac) I talked to alot of friends in elements coming and going from a Logistical Support Area. Many had the same story. Soldiers dying from senseless lack of proper equipment. I know and you know who is to blame for this. I know you had probably heard about the shortage. But this puts a face on the loss. I can give you the names of the casualties that night if necessary. It was a bad bad night, played out all over the shithole that is the quagmire we call Iraq.

Sory this was so long. I wanted to give you the straight skinny on the story and hopefully you can get the story or the fact that troops are facing this even today. Keep on putting the truth out there, and fighting the good fight.”

Thanks, Buddy. You said it better than I ever could have.


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