Shame Shame Shame

The “BYOB” War – Reservists issued Vietnam-era flak jackets forced to purchase their own body armor

Phil Carter at Intel Dump points out an LA Times op-ed about the shortage of Interceptor body armor for US troops. He’s calling it the “Bring Your Own Bulletproofs” war. The new body armor was one of the top performing items during the invasion of Iraq. But someone has totally dropped the ball on this.

Prof. Turley is right — this boils down to priorities. If the Pentagon wanted to buy Interceptor body armor for every servicemember on active duty, it could. But it chose not to, by making a phased purchase of this product over time for pieces of the force at a time. Then the department made a second choice, which was not to take the armor from some non-deployed elements and shift it to those units in contact now with the enemy. Then the Pentagon made a third choice, which was not to immediately jumpstart procurement of these vests in 2002 when it became clear we were going to invade Iraq. These choices reveal a dangerously skewed sense of priorities for the procurement executives in the Pentagon, who would place programs like missile defense and aircraft carriers above the lives of our soldiers and Marines.

There is no excuse for the fact that some of our troops do not have this armor. EVERY SINGLE American serviceman in the field should have this. (I think everyone, whether deployed or not, should have one, but I’ll be “realistic” – for the time being.) We’ve been rushing to war for years, yet we still don’t have enough? Like Carter points out, we DECIDED to not have enough.

I won’t even mention the fact that dropping a few F-22 fighters would outfit the entire Army and Marine Corps with armor.

Do it now. Whatever it takes. We’re spending billions on big ticket items, and the non-glamorous things like body armor, Bradley tracks, batteries, GPS units, weapon cleaning lube, and spare parts get overlooked. Unacceptable.