Rob Douglas: Am I buggin' you?

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Bush lied and our troops die.

Bush was right to start this fight.

The Surge is working.

The Surge is a failure.

McCain will keep us in Iraq for 100 years.

Barack "Hussein" Obama will cut and run.

Republicans are the War Party.

Democrats are Surrender Monkeys.

As Bono asks in Silver and Gold, "Am I buggin' you? I don't mean to bug ya."

But just as Bono sings that line punctuated with sarcasm, I am of a similar mind when it comes to the war. Not because of the endless rhetoric the left and right spit in vain attempts to convince themselves of the correctness of their view. No - my disdain lies with those of us who pay little attention to what truly matters during war.

It is time we stop using the war as a partisan weapon to ideologically bludgeon our political opponents while young men and women pay the price for our intransigence in blood.

We, who give so little, owe those who give so much our undivided attention to ensure they have the tools and support to accomplish the mission and come home safely.

I am struck by how little attention most Americans give the war. I have a growing unease that most Americans don't care what's happening - unless they have a relative involved. As I travel on business, interact with friends and neighbors and attend social events, I rarely hear anyone discussing the war. We live a fantasy while our troops fight in hell.

Am I buggin' you? I don't mean to bug ya.

Something has been eating at me this week and has rekindled my conscience when it comes to our troops.

Last weekend, a number of news organizations obtained copies of a report by Franz Gayl. Gayl is a Marine Corps official disturbed by what he knows of malfeasance by the Pentagon in not providing properly armored vehicles to protect our troops. Gayl recently went public with a report he prepared for the Marines.

Here are excerpts from an account of Gayl's report in USA Today titled, "Study: Lack of MRAPs Cost Marine Lives."

"More than 700 U.S. troops died from roadside bombs because the Marine Corps' devotion to a military vehicle years away from deployment kept it from buying available Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected trucks : instead of fulfilling an urgent Marine request from the field for 1,169 [MRAP] vehicles in February 2005, Marine Corps leaders and analysts delayed fielding the MRAPs, and instead bought more armored Humvees.

"Marine bureaucrats didn't understand the need for MRAPs, and they delayed buying the large, armored vehicles because they wanted to save money for a future replacement for the Humvee called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

"Stopping the threat posed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq in 2005 was deemed secondary to developing the JLTV," Gayl wrote. The Marines, he wrote, saw JLTV "as a higher priority than the daily killed and wounded being experienced by : known IED threats in 2005."

Why does this matter?

"Improvised explosive devices are the largest single killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and are blamed for at least 60 percent of all U.S. casualties there : the Pentagon could have bought 53 South African-made MRAPs called Casspirs for $200,000 apiece in early 2005 and thereby have provided Marines in Iraq's Anbar province with greater protection against IEDs. But the Marines failed to act, he said.

"Last April, USA Today reported that no Marines had died in 300 attacks on MRAPs used by the Marines in Anbar province. A month later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called MRAPs the Pentagon's top procurement priority and ordered the Pentagon to buy more and rush them into combat in Iraq.

"Since the Pentagon expanded its MRAP program, only one U.S. soldier has been killed in one of the vehicles, Pentagon records show."

Bottom line: Hundreds of troops died while the Pentagon's commitment to developing future armored vehicles took priority over saving lives with armored vehicles already available.

I need to pay more attention to this war - how 'bout you?

Am I buggin' you? I don't mean to bug ya.

Rob Douglas spent 10 years as a political commentator and radio talk show host for ABC Radio and Hearst-Argyle Television, following an earlier career as a Washington, D.C., private detective. Rob currently works as a security consultant.

Comments

424now 6 years, 9 months ago

Decisions made on a minute by minute basis in that environment cost lives.

Yes they could have acted sooner. Does it help the moral of the Marines in the field or the American public to debate this while those brave men and women are still in the field? I think not. Save it for the debriefing.

Am I bugging you? I don't mean to bug you.

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

424, I would say that yes, it does help the morale in the field and in the public to know that people care enough to debate this and other issues at all times and not bury them in some after-action process. Without the public debate already held in the example given in this story, our troops might still be using the wrong equipment.

It is EXACTLY the fact that people care enough to daylight these issues that has created the positive changes that have occured thus far. Knowing that these things will see the light of day is what "helps" those responsible reach the right decisions.

Our willingness to openly discuss issues and failures is one of the core strengths of our system. Conversly, the head-in-the-sand denial of challenges, problems and failures justified by an ever-changing series of justifications, especially fabricated or mistakenly perceived threats, is one root causes of failure in many organizations and governments. Further, it is one of the real dangers we face in our changing political environment today.

Secrecy does not create strength; the temptation to bury problems and deny or shift responsibility too often is the real issue behind the "reasons" cooked up to justify it.

Let the sun shine in!

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424now 6 years, 9 months ago

I respectfully disagree.

I did not say ignore the complaint. I said save it for the debreifing.

I am all for equipping our armed forces. They deserve every effort we can make.

The time for a debate on this issue would have been in early 2005. Shining a light on the need when the oportunity to do some good was valuable. How is rehashing an already corrected mistake going to bring anything into the light?

Taking an obviously anti-war poke at the "Marine bureaucrats" accomplishes what?

Foment a little more desent on the home front?

Save it.

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

424, You might look up Rob and get to know him before drawing conclusions about his motivations. In this instance, you are mistaken.

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424now 6 years, 9 months ago

OK I have.

I appreciate his ability as a writer. I like his choices for topic. I agree with many of his assertions.

My pointing out a possible effect of this single article is my opinion.

I maintain that this is an issue that is better suited to review. You can disagree with my assertion, thats your opinion.

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