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Public Statements

Cooper Questions Continued Armor Shortages in Letter to Secretary Rumsfeld

By:
Date:
Location: Nashville, TN


COOPER QUESTIONS CONTINUED ARMOR SHORTAGES IN LETTER TO SECRETARY RUMSFELD
DECEMBER 10, 2004

NASHVILLE-U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has requested that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld provide him and other committee members with information regarding the continuing shortage of armor and equipment for troops in Iraq.

Cooper made the request in a letter sent to Rumsfeld on Thursday. "It is an outrage when troops who serve in the finest military in the world are, according to this Tennessee soldier and his fellow guardsmen, reduced to scavenging through landfills," Cooper stated. Cooper's letter was in response to a question from Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th RCT of the Tennessee National Guard during Rumsfeld's Kuwait visit earlier this week where the 278th is preparing to enter Iraq.

"We support doing whatever it takes to get our troops the equipment they need," Cooper said. But he also called on Rumsfeld to respond to several key questions regarding armor status and plans for ending the shortage, "only if answering does not further delay the delivery of the equipment our troops need."

Cooper's questions included:

-whether U.S. troops have been ordered or encouraged to search landfills or other trash facilities in Kuwait or Iraq in search of scrap armor or used ballistic glass in order to retrofit their vehicles;
-whether all available manufacturers for armor of the appropriate quality are being used to supply our troops, and whether these sources can be augmented, upgraded or otherwise improved to meet our troops' needs;
-whether damaged armor and glass are being re-used to equip vehicles deployed in Iraq and whether that meets Army standards for protection;
-and whether all U.S. military vehicles in Iraq are either manufactured as up-armored, or have been appropriately equipped with armor kits or upgrades and whether the upgrades to these vehicles have been applied in a way where the performance of the vehicle is not unduly harmed.

In addition, Cooper asked Rumsfeld to provide information regarding his plan for ending any shortages that exist on a timely basis and when Congress can expect troops to be adequately supplied.

"As you know, Armor Holdings, Inc., which claims to be a major supplier of armored humvees being used in Iraq, maintains that they could boost production by 22%, if requested by the Army," Cooper said. "When is the Army going to ask, and why hasn't it done so already?"

According to Cooper, "it is inexcusable that our nation is not producing or acquiring enough armor and ballistic glass to properly equip our military vehicles. You underestimate our great nation, which can mobilize to meet almost any demand when we have capable leadership."

Cooper added that Rumsfeld also has continued to underestimate the needs of our brave soldiers. "They are making tremendous sacrifices for our nation, and we must provide them the up-armored vehicles and protective armor they need," Cooper said.

Letter Follows:

December 10, 2004

The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon, Room 3E880
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld,

Why don't our troops in Iraq have the equipment they need? We are deeply troubled by recent reports of continuing shortages of up-armored Humvees and trucks, as well as shortages of quality armor for US military vehicles that are retrofitted. We are concerned about the unnecessary risks that our troops are facing, and we are disappointed in your response to direct pleas for help.

In particular, we were dismayed by your response to a Tennessee Army National Guard soldier in Kuwait who asked you why "soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass" in order to armor their vehicles. According to the transcript, you replied that "you go to war with the Army you have" and that the rate of armor production "is all that can be accomplished at this moment" due to "a matter of physics."
We believe your response to be neither accurate nor complete.

After 21 months of U.S. involvement in Iraq, it is inexcusable that our nation is not producing or acquiring enough armor and ballistic glass to properly equip our military vehicles. You underestimate our great nation, which can mobilize to meet almost any demand when we have capable leadership. You also continu e to underestimate the needs of our brave soldiers. They are making tremendous sacrifices for our nation, and we must provide them the up-armored vehicles and protective armor they need. It is an outrage when troops who serve in the finest military in the world are, according to this Tennessee soldier and his fellow guardsmen, reduced to scavenging through landfills.

Since the beginning of this conflict, Republican and Democratic members of the Armed Services Committees have asked you and the service chiefs repeatedly whether or not the DOD had all the funding, personnel, and equipment needed to win the war and protect our troops. Each time we are told that everything possible is being done. However, after 21 months into the war in Iraq, we continue to hear about vital shortages.

We support doing whatever it takes to get our troops the equipment they need.

We also call upon you to provide Congress with information about the continuing shortages so that Congress can better correct any deficiencies. Specifically, we ask you to answer the following questions, but only if answering does not further delay the delivery of the equipment our troops need:

Whether US troops have been ordered or encouraged to search landfills or other trash facilities in Kuwait or Iraq in search of scrap armor or used ballistic glass in order to retrofit their vehicles;

whether armor and glass that has been damaged is being re-used to equip vehicles deployed in Iraq and whether such used materials meet Army standards for protection;

whether all available manufacturers, both domestic and international, for armor of the appropriate quality are being used to supply our troops, and whether these sources can be augmented, upgraded, accelerated, or otherwise improved in order to meet our troops' needs;

whether all U.S. military vehicles in Iraq are either manufactured as up-armored, or have been appropriately equipped with armor kits or upgrades, including whether sufficient civilian or military personnel are available to apply armor kits or upgrades to these vehicles so that performance of the vehicle is not unduly harmed;

what your plan is for ending any shortages that exist on a timely basis; and when Congress can expect our troops to be adequately supplied.

As you know, Armor Holdings, Inc., a major supplier of armored of Humvees for use in Iraq, maintains that they could boost production by 22%, if requested by the Army. When is the Army going to ask, and why hasn't it done so already?
We would appreciate a prompt response to these questions, and we look forward to working with you to address any shortages of funding, equipment, materials, or personnel that may be contributing to this problem. We are sure that you share our conviction that our troops in Iraq deserve the best that our country can offer.

Sincerely,

Jim Cooper
Member of Congress

Lane Evans
Member of Congress

Marty Meehan
Member of Congress

Adam Smith
Member of Congress

Loretta Sanchez
Member of Congress

Steve Israel
Member of Congress

http://cooper.house.gov/newsroom/releases/dec04/121004__rumsfeld_letter.htm

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