BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS LETTING OUR TROOPS DOWN -- (House of Representatives - May 04, 2005)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday, May 1, marked the 2-year anniversary of President Bush's aircraft carrier news event in which he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. Two years later, our troops are still facing a strong insurgence that shows no sign of slowing down.
Our troops are doing valiant work, but that sadly is not always enough. I will include for the Congressional Record a New York Times investigative report from April 25 titled, "Bloodied Marines Sound Off About Want for Armor and Men." The article should be required reading for every Member of this House, as well as the high-ranking military and civilian personnel at the Department of Defense.
Times reporter Michael Moss interviewed Marines from Company E who served a 6-month stint in Iraq last year. During that time, Company E endured the highest casualty rate of any marine company in the war. According to the Times, "More than one-third of the unit's 185 troops were killed or wounded during that time."
Several months after the beginning of the war as Congress was debating its first emergency supplemental, we were all alerted to the fact that our troops did not have the equipment they needed to adequately do their job and to protect themselves from extreme harm or death. We heard they did not have the body armor they needed, nor did the Humvees come with the necessary protective steel armor to protect them from being easy targets of insurgents.
The situation became so dire for our troops that one brave National Guardsman last year asked Secretary Rumsfeld when the troops would have the protective gear they had already been promised. Secretary Rumsfeld could not give the Guardsman an adequate response at the time. As the press began to question the Bush administration about this outrageous neglect of our troops, President Bush came out and stated, "The concerns expressed are being addressed, and that is we expect our troops to have the best possible equipment and I have told many families I met with, 'We're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones in a mission which is vital and important.' "
The New York Times report clearly shows that the Bush administration has not done enough to protect our troops. As the House prepares to vote tomorrow on another $82 billion supplemental to fund the war, bringing the total cost to $300 billion, it is hard to believe that the Bush administration, particularly Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, has not made protecting our troops in Iraq a main priority.
Mr. Speaker, we have now lost more than 1,600 troops in Iraq, but the Defense Department has no idea how many of these troops have died because they did not receive the proper supplies from the leaders that sent them into harm's way. Would you believe that we do not have those numbers because the Defense Department chooses only to list casualties as "killed in combat"?
However, the New York Times story gives a grim report on how the lack of protection affected Company 13. According to the Times, "The biggest danger the men faced came in traveling to and from camp; 13 of the 21 men who were killed had been riding in Humvees that failed to deflect bullets or bombs." I repeat, 13 of 21, or almost two-thirds of the men, were killed as a direct result of them not having access to armed Humvees. Again, this is last year. This is not 2 years ago at the beginning of the war.
Mr. Speaker, where is the Bush administration, particularly Secretary Rumsfeld, spending the billions of dollars this Congress has given them? The Pentagon says it will not have every Humvee suitably armed until the end of this year. That is simply unacceptable. Our brave troops should not have to wait another 8 months to have the proper protection they need to do their job. Sergeant James King, a member of Company E who lost one of his legs when he was blown out of a Humvee, said it best to the New York Times: "As Marines, we are always taught that we do more with less and get the job done no matter what it takes."
You would expect nothing less from our troops. They have not let us down. But, unfortunately, our troops have clearly been let down by the Bush administration.
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