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Marines Decline Body Armor

In January of this year, Hillary Clinton used the body armor issue as an opportunity to criticize President Bush and to score political points:

Jan. 10, 2006 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called the Bush administration "incompetent" when it came to protecting the troops in combat and called the lack of adequate body armor for soldiers and Marines "unforgivable."

So far in Iraq, more than 2,100 American troops have been killed. Critics like Clinton, D-N.Y., say that many of these deaths are the result of inadequate body armor. A secret Pentagon study of 93 Marines who were killed in Iraq found that 74 died after they were hit by a bullet or shrapnel in the torso or shoulders -- areas unprotected by the armor most are issued.

"We perhaps could have avoided so many of these fatalities with the right body armor," said Clinton, who recently wrote letters to Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee; and Francis J. Harvey, secretary of the Army, calling for an investigation into why troops were not being protected.

Hillary Clinton was so eager to win political points, she didn't consider what was best for the marines for whom she claimed to speak. Now the body armor is flowing into Iraq, but the majority of the marines see the additional armor as more of a hindrance than a help:

Extra body armor _ the lack of which caused a political storm in the United States _ has flooded in to Iraq, but many Marines here promptly stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and cumbersome, many say.

Marines already carry loads as heavy as 70 pounds when they patrol the dangerous streets in towns and villages in restive Anbar province. The new armor plates, while only about five pounds per set, are not worth carrying for the additional safety they are said to provide, some say.

"We have to climb over walls and go through windows," said Sgt. Justin Shank of Greencastle, Pa. "I understand the more armor, the safer you are. But it makes you slower. People don't understand that this is combat and people are going to die."

Staff Sgt. Thomas Bain of Buffalo, N.Y., shared concerns about the extra pounds.

"Before you know it, they're going to get us injured because we're hauling too much weight and don't have enough mobility to maneuver in a fight from house to house," said Bain, who is assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. "I think we're starting to go overboard on the armor."

Overboard indeed:

Many Marines, however, believe the politics of the issue eventually will make the plates mandatory.

"The reason they issued (the plates), I think, is to make people back home feel better," said Lance Cpl. Philip Tootle of Reidsville, Ga. "I'm not wishing they wouldn't have issued them. I'm just wishing that they wouldn't make them mandatory."

Hillary Clinton's focus was on her political career; she didn't consider the needs of our men and women in the military.

Michelle Malkin addressed Senator Clinton's body armor political play in her January column.


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Comments (18)

For once I would love to se... (Below threshold)

For once I would love to see a member of Congress suit up in battle dress and attempt to navigate the floor of the Senate or House, let alone a MOUT facility or a Combat Town at Pendelton.

The toops know this is political posturing, sadly the media ignores the troops opinions (for the most part) and continues to push the politcal hackery flowing from the mouths of the likes of Hillary, Reid, Fiengold, Hagel, etc.

Do they make armor in Teddy... (Below threshold)

Do they make armor in Teddy's size?
Or would they have to borrow plates from an up armored Humvee?

Yeah, given what that fat P... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Yeah, given what that fat POS looks like in a pair of shorts, I'd like to see him wearing a burqua over his "armor" flab. http://www.fatboy.cc/images/Ted%204.jpg

I know plenty of people who... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

I know plenty of people who actually care about the troops and want them to have more armor - however, these people are generally ignorant and don't know a damn thing about anything military-related and have been stirred up by those, like Hilary and the MSM, who are only looking to attack the administration.

I served in the Clinton military, and then later in the Bush military; I can tell you that the Clintons don't give a flying fuck about the military.

Many of these people could care less how well armored or how effective (not necessarily the same thing) our troops are. It's simply another talking point in their BDS-inspired propaganda war.

Every time I hear these people blathering about "supporting the troops" while making speeches demanding that they be pulled out and their sacrifices made pointless, it really pisses me off. They're cynically using false support of the troops to deflect criticism from what is essentially an effort to lose the war by convincing the public that we are losing - all because there is nothing that matters more to them than domestic political power.

For the current generation of servicemembers, this is our Vietnam - not the war in Iraq, but being stabbed in the back by the Dems at home.

This is a stupid comparison... (Below threshold)

This is a stupid comparison, but I'm going to make it anyway:

It's analogous to a football player not using all of the available pads. NFL players sometimes don't have any pads, or very small ones, in their football pants, in order to increase mobility and decrease weight, even by a little. Hand pads might protect your hands--at the cost of losing your grip on the ball or on a ball-carrier you're trying to tackle. Certain types of shoulder pads can make it difficult to catch a pass. Facemasks protect your face, but you lose some sightlines, so some running backs and quarterbacks resisted them until they were forced on them.

Again, nothing as dramatic as the decision a Marine makes about wearing a piece of armor or not. But there's a cost-benefit analysis to all of these. We could load up the guy with armor to the point that he can't move. Have we helped him?

ST. GEORGE & the DRAGONLADY... (Below threshold)

ST. GEORGE & the DRAGONLADY: A mORAL cOMEDIE, acte II, scene XXIV.....You're gonna get flabby using Hillary as a sparring partner. WHO issued the gear? And WHY are AMERICAN troops fighting house-to-house? And how many times do these "houses" need to be retaken? With no lines of battle, Iraqi police units should DEFINITELY take the point. And if a marine private can be made in 72 days, surely a servicable Iraqi troop can be squeezed out in 3 years. When the cream of OUR military AND reserves AND "national" guard are pinned down in a guerrilla war that we are conducting with borrowed "money",(financed by the Chinese for high tech transfers, most-favored trade status and port security concessions -as collateral only- we STILL owe the money!), while our own borders are wide open as a MATTER OF POLICY, blaming "that woman"...(pssst! Osama's in Waziristan)...is Amusing!

bryanD,A good mili... (Below threshold)


A good military consists of more than just "marine privates". It takes years of training and work to establish a competent NCO and officer core. That takes much, much longer than 72 days.

Angry Fat Cat , There are t... (Below threshold)

Angry Fat Cat , There are thousands of Iraqi ex-servicemen that would have been happy for the paycheck a re-constituted army would have provided. But NOOOO! Field Marshal George disbanded the whole thing! Nevertheless, there IS a war and there has been a semblance of an Iraqi army for a couple of years. PLENTY of time to seperate the self-starters from the rest. And tactics are designed to be SIMPLE and infinitly extendable from fire team to squad to platoon, battalion ,etc. A self-starter with ears and eyes can be an officer. Do you think our wars up til WWII were won by a bunch of lifers? There was barely an army to speak of until we were waist-deep in it! Stonewall Ali!!

This "everything would have... (Below threshold)

This "everything would have been fine if we had only employed Saddam's troops" meme is delusional. Is there a single instance from history where an invading military was able to successfully co-opt the military forces it had just defeated? Even if we had succeeded in changing a loyal Saddam force into a loyal US force, the Iraqi military under Saddam was Sunni. The majority of Iraqis are Shiite. How would those Shiites respond to their old Sunni oppressors, now in the employ of the Americans? Remember, W's father had already stabbed the Shiites in the back in Gulf War I. Given the choice, I'd rather fight a 20% Sunni insurgency than a 60% Shiite one.

bryanD,First of al... (Below threshold)


First of all, Field Marshall is not a rank used by the US military. Secondly, combat tactics are only a part of fielding an effective military. Management and administration is just as important. An no, in general, just any "self starter" can't just be an officer. This is the exact reason the US military spends so much on training their officiers and NCO through various different courses and acadamies. Finally, you don't create a new effective military by bootstrapping off of a bad foundation.

That much is obvious, especially to those of us who have served.

Just think of how much fast... (Below threshold)
Master Shake:

Just think of how much faster things would have gone in post-war Germany if only we had kept on the SS troops.


"Is there a single instance... (Below threshold)

"Is there a single instance from history where an invading military was able to successfully co-opt the military forces it had just defeated?"........Oh, I'd reckon about every conflict from the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Wars, plus the conquests of the Incan and Aztec Empires, the North American Indian Wars, the defeat of the Italian Army in 1943, Japan in Indo-china, 1945; Germany after WWII against the Werewolves, and Iraq if offered. I'm sure I missed a few.

There was NO experienced NC... (Below threshold)

There was NO experienced NCO corps in Iraq because that's not the way they did things.

bryanD, military expert. Yeah, I'm sure you missed a few.

Just think of how much f... (Below threshold)

Just think of how much faster things would have gone in post-war Germany if only we had kept on the SS troops

And from past exp with bryanD's posts, he'd have thought that was a grand idea.
Esp if they could have finished work on that final solution, to prevent the creation of a certain mid-east democracy that he loves so...

Angry Fat Cat, Oh how I BE... (Below threshold)

Angry Fat Cat, Oh how I BEG to differ! Management: yes. Logistics and communications/signal, supply and food services, disbursing (mail and pay!) a bare-bone command post with a FEW office pogues. "Administration" (beyond the afore mentioned services) is superfluous. (We don't need no stinkin' lawyers!) And while I wasn't an officer (Lcpl/USMC), the only thing we grunts didn't do that the boot louis DID, was go to meetings in the CP and give performance scores. If you can read a compass and a range card, make a back azimuth, and read grid coordinates (which you're trained to do in Infantry Training School- apx. Day 90) then "YOU TOO!" can be an officer. Hell, enough REAL officers washed- out as 2nd lieutenants, that the traditional college path was not at all reliable, and many "mustangs" (enlisted-to-officer promotions) emerged to disprove the officers-are-made thesis...And, do you mean W isn't a real life Field Marshal?? Is he a real-life jet pilot?? And if not, what other millionaire that supposedly WAS a pilot doesn't get behind the controls AT ALL anymore?? That's OUR GEORGE:O)

But NOOOO! Field Marshal... (Below threshold)
The Ace:

But NOOOO! Field Marshal George disbanded the whole thing!

Bald faced lie.

bryanD: Jarred-Loose Head ... (Below threshold)

bryanD: Jarred-Loose Head example of why simply a history of having been in the military is neither a guarantee on a broad perspective of life nor an objective perspective.

Or a balanced view on the foibles and achievements of authority.

It certainly does offer explanation for a source of bitterness and invective. And explains where you caught the infection of finger-pointing and identifying a sacrificial lamb using whatever mendacity is necessary to make your point and protect your ass.

As to the armor plate issue [ooo boy, a pun], it is another good example of problems with a) politicians trying to micromanage military and b) top brass responding by micromanaging their lower management; both leading to an erosion of respect for authority so well demonstrated above.

Let the local command decide what works for them, and let them take the heat if they make a wrong decision.

You have to consider, thoug... (Below threshold)

You have to consider, though, what if military became Congress after retiring? What if Officers became senators?






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