Saturday, January 07, 2006

You go to war with the administration you have

A stunning lede from Michael Moss in the NYT this morning:
A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.

Granted this study is based on a sample of 93 fatal deaths, which is a relatively small sample, but the fact that over 70 of them could have been prevented by better body armor, according to the report, is simply unbelievable.

More from Moss:
Military officials and contractors said the Pentagon's procurement troubles had stemmed in part from miscalculations that underestimated the strength of the insurgency, and from years of cost-cutting that left some armoring companies on the brink of collapse as they waited for new orders.

Who knows what kind of legs this story will have--depressing as it is to say, is anyone really surprised by this report?--but with it breaking as all the Sunday D.C. shows prep for taping, it could be the talk of Washington next week.


Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Can anyone say "military supply and logistics system" as being the problem?

I sure can; I know from experience. Back in the late eighties, getting teletype parts was practically impossible. This is why we'd hoard them on ships and use them as barter for other sought after things. Same goes with 35' HF fiberglass antennas and their associated parts.

4:47 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Logistics and the estimation of one's enemy are crucial to conducting war -- both are featured prominently in the Art of War. The Iraq conflict highlights mismanagement in both areas.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get so angry when I think of Rumsfeld's statement that "you go to war with the army you have." Unfortunately, we went with the Secretary of Defense we had. And far too many men, women and children have died as a result. This administration has far too much blood on its hands.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Chngurpants said...

I think the real problem was a failure on many levels to acknowledge problems with the troops. The lack of armor, both body and vehicle, was made evident during the initial deployment but was not corrected.

While you go to war with the army you have it doesn't mean you have to accept the shortcomings. Logistics is the single largest factor of a successful military venture- either in the small scale (forces massed at the critical point of a battle) or on the larger (like food and shelter). The only large scale military action that was stopped short for a reason that wasn't logistically based was Alexander in Asia and that was after he conquered all of his known world.

If the administration had taken a real look at the needs of the army and taken time to plan an invasion and occupation and included rainy day scenarios there would have been a different outcome.

The lack of parts in peacetime is on a different scale than needs of troops in a war in Iraq. Unless, the action in Iraq isn't really war because there wasn't a formal declaration of war by congress then the blame would fall solely on the military.

9:14 PM  
Blogger zen said...

This administration appears to function above the law, outside the bounds of accountability and is able to shrug off any criticizm and steam ahead largely unhinged to any sense of reality. So I don't think this story will have the legs that any other spotlight on ineptness could muster.
Perhaps it will add to the cumulative wieght of mismanaged and misled policies that seem to keep this administartion under a cloud of suspicion, and desperatly treading water. Maybe it's the second term doldrums, but there is a very real sense of an imminent unraveling. With the corruption in Congress, crony appointments and particularly the 'arrogance' to willfully circumvent the courts for warrantless surveillance.

2:44 PM  

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