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General Topic Areas

Putting troops in danger (11)
Pay and benefits (5)
Recruiting (0)
Priorities (2)
Deaths due to Pentagon's negligence (3)
Mistreatment of troops (2)

Specific Issues and Cases

lightly armored vehicles
Body armor (2)
Pentagon cuts to IDP and FSA (3)
Klamath Basin Fish Kill (1)
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Treatment of US troops

 
  

Project: Bush administration's treatment of US troops

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1997

       Major Clifford E. Day at the Air Command and Staff College in Alabama concludes in a paper that the US military's reliance on soft-skinned Humvees during the operation in Mogadishu, Somalia “needlessly put ... troops in harms way without the proper equipment to successfully complete the mission.” [MSNBC, 4/15/2003 Sources: Critical Analysis on the Defeat of Task Force Ranger]
          

March 2003 and later

       The US military sends 12,000 soft-skinned Humvees, some with canvas-skinned doors, to Iraq along with hundreds of transport vehicles which are equally unprepared for deployment in combat zones. [The Washington Post, 12/26/2003; MSNBC, 4/15/2003; Daily Press, 9/26/2004]
          

March 2003 and later

       US military units in the Gulf, as well as those in the US preparing for deployment, contract local welders and steel fabricators to retrofit their light-armored vehicles with makeshift armor known as “Hillbilly,” or “Haji,” armor. [MSNBC, 4/15/2003; Daily Press, 9/26/2004; The Washington Post, 12/26/2003]
          

(Summer 2003-March 2004)

       The US Army's official guidance on the issue of “hardening” soft-skinned Humvees and other lightly-armored vehicles includes a recommendation for soldiers to put sandbags on the floorboards to reduce the impact of explosions. Since the summer, the soldiers' preferred solution to the problem of unprotected vehicles has been to hire local contractors to add steel to the bodies of their vehicles (see March 2003 and later). [MSNBC, 4/15/2003]
          

October 2003

       More than 18 months after the US began its ground invasion of Iraq, US troops are still waiting for the Army to retrofit their supply trucks. [Daily Press, 9/24/2004; CBS News, 10/31/2004]
          

October 2003

       Army Pfc. John D. Hart telephones his parents in Bedford, Massachusetts and complains that he feels unsafe patrolling in his company's unprotected soft-skinned Humvees which do not have bulletproof shielding or even metal doors. A week later, the 20-year-old paratrooper and another soldier, David R. Bernstein, are killed when their vehicle is hit with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Taza outside the northern city of Kirkuk. The driver of the vehicle, Specialist Joshua Sams, will later explain to the Boston Globe that Bernstein had bled to death after being struck by a bullet that ripped through the Humvee. [Boston Globe, 10/20/2003; Boston Globe, 3/8/2004; MSNBC, 4/15/2003]
          

October 2003

       Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee claims that the Army has ordered as many “up-armored” vehicles as its contractors can produce, but says that they will not be ready until mid-2005. But Brian T. Hart, whose 20 year old son was killed in a soft-skinned Humvee (see October 2003), investigates the secretary's claim and learns that the armor manufacturers are not at full production. He takes this information to Senator Edward M. Kennedy who then helps him pressure the Army to speed up production and move the date that they will be available up to January. [Boston Globe, 3/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Edward Kennedy
          

June 13, 2004

       Spc. Eric McKinley from the Oregon National Guard is killed when his unarmored Humvee hits an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) outside of Baghdad. Also in the vehicle is fellow guardsman Staff Sgt. Sean Davis who suffers shrapnel wounds and burns. The Humvee had been fitted with plywood, sandbags, and armor salvaged from old Iraqi tanks. McKinley was supposed to have been discharged from the Oregon National Guard a few months before, but he was kept in Iraq because of the Army's “stop-loss” policy (see June 2, 2004). [CBS News, 10/31/2004]
          


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