Troops grill Rumsfeld over Iraq

Wonder if TCH would ever answer questions from the troops??

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmour our vehicles?" Army Spc Thomas Wilson asked.

"You go to war with the army you have," Mr Rumsfeld replied, saying vehicle armour manufacturers were being exhorted to crank up production.

Mr Rumsfeld added that vehicle armour might not provide total protection from the perils faced by soldiers in Iraq - such as roadside bombs.

"You can have all the armour in the world on a tank and it can [still] be blown up," Mr Rumsfeld said.
"His questions brought cheers from the 2000 troops present"

...and a really big nasty stare from his LTC


Well I guess Specialist Wilson is the star of the extras list by now

I'm amazed, I thought the policy with US troops and VIP's was Shut your mouth, listen politely, cheer enthusiastically?

Wonder if the SecDef will herein be known as TCR? :D
Mr Rumsfeld paused, before asking him to repeat the question, AP news agency reported.

Spc Wilson did so, adding, "we do not have proper armoured vehicles to carry with us".

Er......Spc Wilson.....stop carrying your armour...try climbing into it. duh. 8O
An honest answer from Rumsfelt could be supplied "You go to war with the army you have rather than the army you would like" as Dubya has four more years in the bag.

If some of our guys direct such searching questions at TCH then his sphincter may twitch slightly more, as we have a few months of headlines before the likely date of the next election! :twisted:
Hmm TCH was in Basra today (alas he also left basra up right). Apparently he met the troops but if you look at the picture in the BBC he is surrunded by troops from Div who provide force protection They have been in theatre about 2 weeks now. Heaven forbid he was exposed to the Black Watch booties or the battle groups who have been patrolling the AOs here for a couple of months.

I reckon by comparison old Donald would have got it easy. So TCH just why are you cutting troops when we need them more than ever. I think he would have got a similar receptin to the one he get (although MOD denied) from the SAS
This was covered a few minutes ago on CNN. Their piece included SPC Wilson's question (not very audible), and Rummy's answer about "no discrimination in equipment between regular army, guard and reserve." Omitting the great cheer which went up from the troops which I heard on BBC R4. If this was how it was shown on CNN, I hate to think how it was covered on Fox.
Saw that as well Hackle, it was a big cheer, and it has been cut.

I expect Fcuxx have "disappeared" him by now :evil:
OK, fuller report from New York Times (registration required). "Hillbilly armor" - I like it. Story does mention the cheers. Interesting that, towards the end of the story, there are off-message but honest remarks from a full Col who is the staff judge advocate for the 278th combat team.

Iraq-Bound Troops Confront Rumsfeld Over Lack of Armor

Published: December 8, 2004

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait, Dec. 8 - In an extraordinary exchange at this remote desert camp, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld found himself on the defensive today, fielding pointed questions from Iraq-bound troops who complained that they were being sent into combat with insufficient protection and aging equipment.

Specialist Thomas Wilson, a scout with a Tennessee National Guard unit scheduled to roll into Iraq this week, said soldiers had to scrounge through local landfills here for pieces of rusty scrap metal and bulletproof glass - what they called "hillbilly armor" - to bolt on to their trucks for protection against roadside bombs in Iraq.

"Why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" Specialist Wilson asked Mr. Rumsfeld, drawing cheers and applause from many of the 2,300 troops assembled in a cavernous hangar here to meet the secretary. Mr. Rumsfeld responded that the military was producing extra armor for Humvees and trucks as fast as possible.

A few minutes later, a soldier from the Idaho National Guard's 116th Armor Cavalry Brigade asked Mr. Rumsfeld what he and the Army were doing "to address shortages and antiquated equipment" National Guard soldiers heading to Iraq were struggling with.

Mr. Rumsfeld seemed taken aback by the question and a murmur began spreading through the ranks before he silenced them. "Now settle down, settle down," he said. "Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here."

He said all organizations had equipment, materials and spare parts of different vintages, but he expressed confidence that Army leaders were assigning the newest and best equipment to the troops headed for combat who needed it most.

Nonetheless, he warned that equipment shortages would probably continue to bedevil some American forces entering combat zones like Iraq. "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Moreover, he said, adding more armor to trucks and battle equipment did not make them impervious to enemy attack. "If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up," he said. "And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up."

It was difficult to gauge the scope and seriousness of the equipment problems cited by the two soldiers and by several others in interviews after Mr. Rumfeld's remarks and the question period. A senior officer in Specialist Wilson's unit, Col. John Zimmerman, said later that 95 percent of the unit's more than 300 trucks had insufficient armor.

Senior Army generals here said they were not aware of widespread shortages and insisted that all vehicles heading north from this staging area 12 miles south of the Iraqi border would have adequate armor. "It's not a matter of money or desire," Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb, the commander of Army forces in the Persian Gulf, told the troops after Mr. Rumsfeld asked him to address Specialist Wilson's question. "It's a matter of the logistics of being able to produce it."

But the complaints voiced by the soldiers here are likely to reinvigorate the debate that the Bush administration failed to anticipate the kind of tenacious insurgency now facing troops in Iraq, and that the Pentagon is still struggling to provide enough such basic supplies as body armor and fortified Humvees and other vehicles.

In October, members of an Army Reserve unit disobeyed orders to deliver fuel to a base in Iraq, complaining that their vehicles had not been properly outfitted. Earlier this month, the Army raised its goal for replacing regular Humvee utility vehicles in Iraq with armored versions, to 8,000 vehicles from 4,000.

The soldiers' concerns here may also rekindle deep-held suspicions among many National Guard and Reserve troops that they are receiving equipment inferior to what their active-duty counterparts get, despite assurances from senior Army officials that all Army troops are treated equitably.

Some 10,000 soldiers, many of whom are reservists from Oregon, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina, are here on their way to one-year tours in Iraq or passing through this camp on their way home after serving their stints.

That some soldiers would dare confront Mr. Rumsfeld directly on the readiness and equipment issue in such a public setting was highly unusual. In his town-hall style meetings with troops, Mr. Rumsfeld usually gets general policy questions or very specific complaints about pay or benefits.

But in interviews afterward, the equipment issue resonated with many soldiers and commanders here. Specialist Blaze Crook, 24, from Cleveland, Tenn., said he and other members of his Tennessee National Guard felt shorthanded going into their mission in Iraq. "I don't think we have enough troops going in to do the job," said Specialist Crook, who is a truck driver.

In an interview, Specialist Wilson said the question he asked Mr. Rumsfeld was one that had been on the minds of many men in his unit, the 1st Squadron, 278th Regimental Combat Team. "I'm a soldier and I'll do this on a bicycle if I have to, but we need help," said Specialist Wilson, 31, who served on active duty in the Air Force for six years, including in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, before leaving the military, and then re-enlisting in the National Guard after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Col. John Zimmerman, the staff judge advocate for the 278th combat team, said in an interview that the unit's Humvees were sufficiently armored, but that most of its heavy trucks were not. He said that Army supply officials had given the unit 70 tons of steel plates to attach to their vehicles, but that it was not enough.

Colonel Zimmerman suggested that the Army would not have let this happen to an active-duty unit about to deploy into Iraq. "We've got two Armies," he said. "We've got the active-duty and we've got the National Guard. We're proud to serve. We just want what everyone else has. We're not asking for anything more."

When asked about the soldiers' complaints, General Whitcomb's deputy, Maj. Gen. Gary Speer, acknowledged in an interview that many vehicles would head north from here into Iraq without the bulletproof windshields or the Kevlar flooring that protect against bombs exploding underneath Humvees or trucks. General Speer said many vehicles were not armored because they would be assigned duties inside headquarters compounds where there was virtually no threat of roadside bombs.

General Speer said a special unit here at Camp Buehring removes the extra armor on vehicles that have left Iraq and re-attaches it to vehicles going into the country. "We've got a lot of work to do," he said. "There's a lot of people working around the clock to meet the concerns those soldiers raised."

Colonel Zimmerman said he appreciated the efforts by Army supply officials here, but he and his troops said they could not help but fume at the sight of the fully "up-armored" Humvees and heavy trucks set out on display here for Mr. Rumsfeld's visit.

"What you see out here isn't what we've got going north with us," he said.
I have to say I am impressed with the spams over this one. Spc Wilson got the support of not just of a full Col in his Regimental Combat Team, but also of a 2-star back in Tennessee:

The deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Kuwait, Maj. Gen. Gary Speer, ... said he was unaware that soldiers were searching landfills for scrap metal and discarded glass.

However, Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett, the adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, disputed Speer's remarks. "I know that members of his staff were aware and assisted the 278th in obtaining these materials," he said.

NB no-one has mutinied, no-one has done anything worse than telling the truth and challenging the spin. Senior officers are prepared to speak up for their men, how bad is that. Good luck to All Ranks of the 278th in Iraq, IMO they have already proved they have one kind of courage.
Couple of questions out of left field there Tom

I especially like the Padre's question - "Disneyland" :lol: , Over here, we use the phrase "Mickey Mouse"

Nice to see US troops can get a sly one in there too . :wink:
PTP we too use the term mickey mouse for a variety of situations make work or BS.

The thing that irritated me about the SECDEF's response was that it was lame. I saw the full question and answer and not just the bits played on TV.
It is a topic that shouldnt have to come up for OIF 3. Everyone knows that trucks/Humvee need to be uparmored. This is a point that seemed to have escaped the Secretary. Units to Iraq are already leaving behind 50% of their MBT's and Bradley's in the States, a decision I dont favor at all. Units need to deploy to Iraq with all of their equipment. In theater they dont need to use the equipment if its not needed but at least its available.
Rumsfeld said ""Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here."

aka 'arrse. I knew this was bad idea'

For f###s sake.

Anyone know what Hoon was asked out in Basrah? I would dearly love to know - please enlighten us all if you know
I read an article in the Scotsman about his visit with the BW and they asked him about the regiment's status. From the account anyway he seemed non committal about the regiment's status.
General Speer said:
a special unit here at Camp Buehring removes the extra armor on vehicles that have left Iraq and re-attaches it to vehicles going into the country. "We've got a lot of work to do," he said. "There's a lot of people working around the clock to meet the concerns those soldiers raised."
Right, I'm not a logistician, but WTF are armoured humvees being pulled from Iraq and un-armoured ones being shipped in?

The Humvee was never designed for the extra weight caused by the armor, so the vehicles wear out. Another reason for new Humvee's is to replace those that were unusable due to enemy action.
Humvee's are shyte...if you want armored transport get a M1A1, Bradley or M113. Or ask the Berliner Polizei for a 6 wheeled water canon...damn things put a dent in the soap dodgers and repeled rocks and sofas thrown from the 5th floor of a walk up. :D
Just picked up vis Google News:,12271,1370905,00.html

Disgruntled American soldiers who challenged the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, about a shortage of armoured vehicles when he was visiting a staging post in Kuwait were put up to it by an embedded reporter, it emerged yesterday.
Then perhaps the real reason:

"I have been trying to get this story out for weeks - as soon as I found out I would be on an unarmoured truck," he [the journo] writes.
Note not "months - since I saw the boys going off in light-skinned vehs..."

where's me kevlar note-book?
Ahhhhhh so American troops would never have the courage to ask these questions themselves?


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