In the news jumble today -- a new White House front group targeting Republicans on Iraq, Ari Fleischer not knowing the name of the veterans he used in the ads, the president saying we should have stayed in Vietnam while he was defending the airspace of Texas from the VC, and the tragic helicopter crash that killed 14 of our troops -- an important story is getting buried.
Reuters reports that "U.S. troops in Iraq will receive at least 1,000 fewer special armored vehicles than expected this year due to the amount of time needed for shipment."
This is unacceptable. Completely and utterly unacceptable. The issue of getting the most up to date Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles has been a problem for a while, and it's no closer to getting solved.
For years, the United States Marines have urgently requested MRAP vehicles for use in Iraq. Ever since a 2005 memo was sent up the chain of command by then-brigadier general Dennis Hejlik, the Bush administration's civilians in the Pentagon knew of the need for MRAP vehicles. Yet, it wasn't until March of this year that the Pentagon began to move on providing the 3,700 MRAP vehicles requested by the Marines, and over 17,000 requested by the Army. Even still, contract requests that were put out to eight companies didn't forsee production and distribution of the vehicles until 2009.
Now we're finding the ones we've produced can't be shipped quickly enough? That is an outrage. Senator Joseph Biden has it right. In response to the slow production schedule foreseen by the administration, Biden told USA Today, "You cannot tell me that this country is incapable in the next six months of building every single damn one of these vehicles that needs to be built."
History says Senator Biden is right. America's industry has stepped up to the challenge of quick, quality production before:
- In the spring of 1941, the first M3 combat tank rolled off the line at a Chrysler facility -- just four months after Chrysler received the blueprints for the brand new vehicle. (Source: The New York Times, April 24, 1941, Editorial)
- During World War II, the Ford Motor Company applied its mass production innovation to the production of B-24 bombers. By the end of the war, Ford was producing one B-24 every 63 minutes. (Source: "Airpower Classics," Air Force Magazine, June 2006)
- At the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during the second world war, it was only taking a little over two weeks to assemble an entire Liberty ship. (Source: National Park Service)
What excuse is there for the shamefully slow production and shipping of MRAP vehicles? If our industry once was able to build an entire bomber in an hour and an entire Navy ship in two weeks, why does the Bush administration show no problem with it taking over a year to build 20,000 MRAP vehicles? Why hasn't the President himself taken responsibility and called industry and the Pentagon out on their BS? Where is the leadership? Hell, where is the outrage?
Troops lives are at stake. In the military, if I knew troops lives were at stake and I just sat and watched a problem that put them in danger, I would get a serious reprimand, probable demotion, maybe court martial. But, the president and civilians at the Pentagon? Nada. That is the definition of outrage.
P.S. I also wanted to highlight a new ad we're unveiling today at VoteVets.org. You can view it below. We're kicking it off in Maine in a few days, and then plan to take it to ten other states and districts. Oh, and unlike Ari Fleischer, I know the name of this veteran -- John Bruhns. I talk to him almost every day, as well as many, many other troops and veterans who also served in Iraq, like me.