Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bad Joe Don't Know

Though I tried to avoid commenting on Dubya’s speech on Monday night (which was fitting propaganda to accompany a program on ABC/Disney that was essentially the same thing), I confess that I didn’t try hard enough and came across this story from CNN today.

(By the way, if you want a dose of the truly unpleasant reality of the situation in Iraq, I would recommend Trudy Rubin’s column in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. It was one of the most depressing reads I’ve ever had, but this is the reality, and it would be nice if our government would act like adults for a change and talk to us the same way.)

And buried way down in the CNN story is this quote from Repug U.S. House Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina (in response to a remark from Nancy Pelosi where she said capturing bin Laden wouldn’t make us any safer – though that is highly desirable of course – echoing some Repug comments along those lines…we know about the other Joe Wilson of course, who is the husband of Valerie Plame, but this guy is something completely different):

"That quote clearly indicates a misunderstanding of how important and what a symbol Osama bin Laden is," (Wilson) said.

"I actually thought that the Democrats would pursue a policy of national security almost identical to what the president's proposing of taking the war to the enemy," he said. "But now I understand ... that indeed they would, I believe, cut and run. I believe that they would appease."
Congressman, bin Laden is a hell of a lot more than a symbol (maybe that’s what he is to you). He’s quite probably the most notorious terrorist of our generation who deserves nothing less than death.

So, with Wilson’s words still fresh in my mind and starting to induce nausea (which is in keeping with prior behavior, as noted here at Source Watch under “Positions and Views” for a little June 2005 spat with Henry Waxman), I decided to do some searching for anything he has written previously on this subject, and I came across this item from a web site called Military Training Technology (I will give Wilson credit for having served, but it begins and ends there).

After the White House recently released to the public a 16-page letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s deputy in al-Qaida, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, the American people got another first-hand look at terrorists’ ability to constantly evolve in the global war on terrorism. In the letter, Zawahiri specifically details al-Qaida’s point-by-point plan to expel American forces from Iraq, and to establish the country under supreme radical Islamic rule. His words serve as a chilling reminder of the challenges our troops face as they continue to fight a sophisticated and technologically savvy enemy.
I tried to find this letter through Google, but all of the hits I got were for freeper chat rooms where I needed to log in, and to be honest, I have neither the time nor desire to do that.

Oh, and by the way, the prior paragraph is deceptive in that it implies to someone historically impaired that Zarqawi had been running the show in Iraq prior to our invasion, which was not true of course. That person would be Saddam Hussein, and as noted in this Washington Post story:

Far from aligning himself with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hussein repeatedly rebuffed al-Qaeda's overtures and tried to capture Zarqawi, the (recently declassified) report (by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) said.
Back to Wilson...

The global war on terrorism is unlike any other war in our nation’s history, and U.S. troops fortunately have the greatest technological advantage. As readers of this magazine, you are well aware of the daily advancements that make our troops lighter, faster and safer in today’s war.

Congress plays an active oversight role to ensure that the Department of Defense is able to quickly deliver the most efficient military technology to troops without being bogged down in red tape. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a father of three sons serving in the military (including one who served for a year in Iraq), I take this responsibility seriously.
Tell me another one, Joe.

From the moment our troops entered Iraq, they have adapted quickly to the enemies’ ever-changing warfare tactics. After the fall of Baghdad, terrorists began targeting coalition forces with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as our troops patrolled the streets of Iraq. When soldiers attempted to overcome these attacks, terrorists were able to defeat our countermeasures.
From this article (including the following paragraphs in particular)...

“…even with these proven technologies (in ballistic protection and IED signal jamming), it's hard not to get the feeling that bomb-stopping isn't anywhere close to the top of the Pentagon priority list. Yes, an extra $250 million was sent over to the Joint IED Defeat Task Force in October, to buy more jammers. I assume that's on top of the agency's $1.2 billion per year budget. But even with all that extra cash, only a slim minority of American troops on the ground – (possibly) less than 15% -- will get the jammers, which are one of the few proven methods for actually keeping the bombs from going off.

And remember: getting these jammers to frontline troops helps in the war after Iraq, too. If IEDs continue to be this effective, you can bet, for the next decade or two, guerilla groups will start jury-rigging some bombs as soon as U.S. (forces) land.
Back to Wilson again...

Under the leadership of Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-CA, the House Armed Services Committee responded to this challenge by ensuring that necessary armor kits were sent to Iraq. We provided the funding, collaborated with federal research laboratories, partnered with companies and learned a valuable lesson: to win this war, we must stay technologically on the offensive.
I give Hunter some credit for trying to make sure the vehicles for our troops are armored properly (Hunter has a personal interest because his son has served in Iraq), but this quote from a USA Today article in May sums up the problem as far as I’m concerned.

"The enemy adapts to everything we do," said military analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank in Arlington, Va.
Yep, that’s what happens in war unfortunately (and by the way, Rep. Hunter, stop using our troops to buttress your support for Dubya’s failed, illegal invasion).

We took the process one step further by providing crucial funding for jammers, which have the capability to render roadside explosive devices useless. After the Army reported in March 2005 that it had fielded 20 percent of the validated theater requirement for jammers, the committee authorized $161 million from the Iraq Freedom Fund to increase IED jammer production. Additionally, the House requested that $60 million be added to the FY05 supplemental request for jammers.
Once more, from the defensetech article...

Yes, an extra $250 million was sent over to the Joint IED Defeat Task Force in October, to buy more jammers. I assume that's on top of the agency's $1.2 billion per year budget. But even with all that extra cash, only a slim minority of American troops on the ground – (possibly) less than 15% -- will get the jammers, which are one of the few proven methods for actually keeping the bombs from going off.
And back to Wilson again...

Congress also increased protection for American troops by providing $5 billion for the Tactical Wheel Vehicle armoring initiative. When my son was serving in Iraq, his convoy came under fire twice and, fortunately, his unit survived both attacks. His two close calls are a vivid reminder of the critical importance of up-armoring military vehicles.
Well, that’s a good thing all right. But as noted here...

Archie Massicotte, president of military and government business at International Truck and Engine said, “the Humvee has served a great life for the military for 20 some years. I think what they’re finding is that we’re fighting battles now in Iraq, and they’re using it as a tactical wheeled vehicle. And it was never intended to be a tactical wheeled vehicle,” he said...

The question of armor—how much is needed, when to use it and the trade-offs in engine power, weight and carrying capacity it entails—will be a technological challenge for any proposed follow-on vehicle, experts said...
So based on this article written in February of this year, it sounds like a bond fide tactical wheeled vehicle is still being designed, when Wilson makes it sound like it’s a matter of funding an existing program (the word “initiative” stuck at the end of the sentence is the most important clue). If I had a son or daughter on the ground in that mess over there or knew someone who did, the only thing I’d care about is when this vehicle would be deployed.

I have basically nothing else to add to Wilson’s column at this point, except to point out that the Victory in Iraq Caucus, of which Wilson is a co-founder, is described in this article as “a group of 118 Republican lawmakers.” I haven’t been able to identify who all of these people are thus far (can probably guess some of them, but not all).

So, with his rhetoric implying that Democrats would “cut and run” since they are “appeasers” who “conduct guerilla warfare on American troops,” Wilson tries to set himself up as some sort of Repug protector of our military and our country, promoting peace and victory in The Global Now And Forever and Ever You Better Goddamn Believe It You Bedwetting Liberal War On Terror.

But by implying a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that didn’t exist, and by failing to report that mission critical battlefield programs are being cut by Congress from the DoD budget (and those for IED jamming and ballistic protection aren’t being funded properly anyway), and by implying that tactical wheeled vehicles properly armored are available for our troops right now as opposed to existing in the minds of engineers as unfinished theoretical concepts at this point, Wilson is promoting no one but himself (and that goes for the rest of this “gang of 118” also).

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