The Bush Administration wants us to give more of our precious human resources as well as more of our money to the war in Iraq. Coming from a military family, I do not want any soldiers to be without what they need, but in order to fully understand the problem, I realized I had to look beneath the simplistic cover
the administration uses for its reasoning of asking for more.
In order to look objectively at this request for more money I decided to review for myself how the administration has dealt with one basic safety need the troops on the ground have had. Armor for the vehicles sent to Iraq. Guess what? It's still a problem.
Why are the vehicles we send to Iraq still unarmored? After reading much about this issue I had to conclude that the administration and Pentagon have never looked at this issue as a mistake. My common sense tells me you don't send soldiers into a war like this without basic protection for their vehicles. The Pentagon callously did not see this as a significant issue. As a matter of fact, the idea that this was a mistake was dismissed with an off handed remark by Rumsfeld which I am sure we all remember all too well. Thankfully, the story was picked up by a few Congress women and men and the media and there was an effort to correct the problem.
The Pentagon and the administration has had four long years to fix this outrageous negligence and have they made this a priority? No. They seem to have the attitude that our greatest military resource: our soldiers, our son's and daughter's lives are not valuable enough, not worthy enough, to invest and provide proper protection. I can only deduce from this lack of action by the administration and the Pentagon, and from their attitude, that providing troops on the ground with proper equipment is not a priority.
The effort to address the issue began in late 2003 and it's still not corrected! Yes this is true. Oh there have been many "uparmored kits" sent into Iraq and this is good except these kits do not include metal plates for the floor of these vehicles. Most of the “armored vehicles" in Iraq today are considered armored because these kits have been installed. This is not enough protection considering our solders are being killed daily by IED's that are
hidden underground, alongside of, and in the roads.
Today unarmored vehicles continue to ship to Iraq. Imagine that. We allocated
more money, the administration and those in charge of the money for Iraq can not tell us where the money went, and the soldiers are still driving along those very dangerous roads in "unarmored vehicles" or in vehicles that are partially armored, but without any protection to the very floor of their vehicles.
This seems unbelievable that we, the greatest industrial power in the world, could not solve the simple and entirely fixable problem of unarmored vehicles.
Let me review; we gave plenty of money and we have had plenty of time to make sure the problem was corrected. You would think we would have this straightened out immediately, or at least by the end of 2004, Or at least 2005? How about 2006? Nope, the presumed great super power, America can not provide their military soldiers with the necessity of basic armored vehicles as yet.
Now the administration wants more money and they are making the argument that this is necessary to provide what the troops on the ground need. Do you believe they are going to spend this additional money on the troops? Do you think the troops will get what they need?
Well, Dr. Phil tells us all that past behavior is the best predictor of the future. I'm not Dr. Phil but even I can tell you that the safety of the troops are not the priority of the administration and that the money will not go into protecting your greatest military resource, the soldiers themselves.
As you are driving to work listening to the radio I want you to take a moment to think about the 3 or 4 young soldiers that will be killed today, and the @25 young soldiers that will give their arm, leg, and or part of their brain to this war. Some of these deaths and injuries are directly due to the negligent if not cavalier attitude of the Pentagon and administration regarding the BASIC safety of your soldiers. Fully armored vehicles would cut down the number of soldiers giving their limbs and parts of their brains to this war. Fully armored vehicles would decrease the number of young men and women being killed by the
These soldiers are military family's sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and they are your soldiers, your countrymen and women and your neighbors. Is it acceptable to you that your soldiers safety are not a priority and that they are expendable? Is it acceptable to you that the administration representing You across the world has such a casual attitude about the number of Iraqi citizens
that are being killed daily? Is it acceptable to you that the administration
is using the argument of providing your soldiers with what they need when they have a very clear policy of not providing your soldiers with what they need?
Remember this is YOUR military, your national defense organization. Is Iraq even where you want your military to be? Is this war where you want your national resources to be spent?
The administration is asking for more money when they can not tell you where billions upon billions went. Their explanation is that there was chaos. Is this acceptable to you?
Every time I here George Bush talk about his determination to make those tax
cuts of his permanent it makes me so upset. In reality, he is setting up for
us this scenario: military families grandchildren will be part of the
population that pays for this war.
If these tax cuts are made permanent, it won't be George Bush or Dick Cheney's grandchildren that pay for it. It will be your grandchildren and my grandchildren who pay. Yes, my grandchildren, who lost their father in this war, will pay for the war that killed their Dad.
Your brave military is being used and depleted. Your national defense is being squandered. Your countrymen and women are considered expendable, and again it's not a priority to get them what they reasonably need. Your great country in unable to solve this small element of the war situation even given plenty of money and four grueling years!!
Please, understand this administration is unable for whatever reason, to use moneys appropriated in a way that will benefit your country, your military, and your democracy.
Please, do not allow the administration one additional chance to waste money
that we don't even have.
Please, do not allow the financial burden for
your children and grandchildren to get any bigger.
Please, let's not be the kind of society that is unable to learn from our past mistakes and let's not be a complacent society when we have every right to actively participate in building a better future.
Let's be the country that has the courage to stop spending what we don't even have any more. Let's learn from our mistakes and humbly implement correction to our mistakes. Let us not ask our grandchildren to pay any more for our mishandlings of funds and intelligence. And let us not ask children who have already given so much to become finically handicapped by our inability to speak out and stop the insanity.
Why do we ask so much of some, and very little from others? Will it always be this way here in America? Are we the land of equality or of non-equality? What are you willing to do?
Please call your Congress men and women. Let your voice be heard. Please ask them to stop funding this war.
Stephany Kerns' son LCPL Nickolas Schiavoni was killed by an IED on November 15, 2005 in Karmah Iraq. He remains forever 26 years old. Stephany is a member of Military Families Speak Out.