D-DAY ANNIVERSARY -- (Senate - June 06, 2007)
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I would like to take a moment to recognize the great sacrifices made by our Nation's veterans on the anniversary of D-day and to once again highlight the need for all of us to do more for those serving today.
On this day 63 years ago, 3,393 American troops gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy defending the freedom of America and its allies. These brave young men sacrificed themselves to stop an empire born of hatred from consuming Europe and fought to prove that freedom and justice would never bow to terror and intolerance. Their valor and service will forever endure in our Nation's memory.
Today, a new generation faces new challenges. The nearly 170,000 American troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan exemplify the kind of courage and dedication that has defined the American military throughout our history. And for the sacrifices they are willing to make, we in the Senate, our colleagues in the House, the military leadership, the President, and the American people have an absolute moral obligation to provide our servicemen and women with the best possible protection when we send them to war.
I know that when President Roosevelt sent his men into battle, he did not simply pay lipservice to their courage, he made sure that they had the strongest artillery, the best gear, and the most advanced equipment available. He did not worry that the landing craft he needed for D-day would not be needed when the war ended. He made equipping the force the entire Nation's top priority. Calling on the patriotism of American businessmen to ensure military needs were met before all else. And so I ask why--a half century later--we cannot do the same for our troops today.
Today, improvised explosive devices, IEDs, are the single greatest threat to the lives of our troops, causing 70 percent of U.S. casualties in Iraq. The military has indicated that mine resistant ambush protected, MRAP, vehicles, which provide four to five times more protection than up-armored Humvees, will reduce casualties from IEDs by two-thirds. These vehicles have already been tested fully at Aberdeen Proving Center and our allies have been using similar technologies in the field for years.
So why, then, are these critical vehicles not already in the field?
We learned recently that in February of 2005, Marine commanders in Iraq realized that they needed vehicles designed specifically to defeat the IED threat and asked the Pentagon to build them. Yet 2 years later their request remains unfulfilled. Secretary Gates has indicated that MRAPs compete with other defense spending, which may make it difficult to produce all we need. I just don't get that logic. I can see no greater use of our dollars than getting American troops the best possible protection that exists today. This Nation can afford to do that and whatever else is necessary to do right by our military men and women and their families.
At a later date we will get to the bottom of what happened in 2005, but our first order of business today should be making sure that we get our troops the technology they need as soon as possible. That will require a genuine assessment of how many MRAPs are needed in the field and how much it will cost to build that critically needed inventory.
We also need to provide our troops with all the latest in tested technology to defend against the new weapons which insurgents are using in Iraq: shaped charges called EFPs, or explosively formed penetrators/projectiles, those shaped-charges which hit our vehicles from the side with devastating effect. We cannot wait another 2 years to field technology to protect against these devices when Americans are dying today.
Today I ask of my colleagues, of the President, of our military commanders, and of the American people, that we pay respect to American servicemembers with more than words. We have the ability and the obligation to do more and we must.