Saturday, October 16, 2004

The New York Times Twists the Frame. 
Well, the copy editors at the New York Times blew the headline, but here are some interesting military polling numbers from Adam Clymer, former political reporter for the New York Times and reknowned "major league asshole."

But look at the way the Times frames the story!!!!!

Compare the lead paragraph with the second paragraph!

The Times could just as easily swapped the two out: in which case it would read thus:

Washington - Military members and their families overwhelmingly support the Iraq mission and nearly two thirds approve of George Bush's handling of the Iraq war, according to a new poll from the University of Pennsylvania.

The poll also found that two thirds of the respondents thought that President Bush underestimated the number of troops that would be needed in Iraq, and more than half thought that the citizen soldiers of the National Guard and Reserves carried too heavy a burden.

The information conveyed is exactly the same. But what a difference a lead makes!!!

It's typical New York Times behavior, though.

The rest of the polling numbers are interesting, too--especially the contrast between the Reserve component and active duty troops:

62 percent of the entire military sample said active-duty troops were properly trained and equipped, and 21 percent disagreed.

But only 38 percent of the sample said the National Guard and Reserve soldiers were properly trained and equipped before deploying to Iraq. The poll found that 42 percent said they had not been adequately trained and equipped, and 7 percent said they had been properly trained but not adequately equipped.

What I want to know is this:

What was the difference between OIF I and OIF II rotations. Because the Army had a full year to correct the readiness deficit and equipment deficit between the Active Component and Reserve Component units that were actually deploying.

Did they fail?

Because even at the end of my own tour in Iraq, my Guard unit was still not fully equipped. We had M16s where the active guys had M4s. We didn't have satellite tracking systems in our vehicles, where they were standard issue already in the 3rd ACR. So much so that they were genuinely surpised when I told their support battalion TOC we didn't have any. Which is a big deal when air cover is scarce and you're out of FM radio range. (I rarely got to bring a Thuraya phone along, and that was only after prolongued nagging to get one, toward the very end of my tour, when I wasn't convoying so much anyway.)

In 2003, we had problems getting ammunition as well--particularly 9mm, though I think that was armywide. Not because of a particular shortage, but because of a hidebound distribution system that did not allow for MP-5s or other 9mm submachine guns -- a far, far preferable weapon to the M9 pistol in the urban environment, because the M9 could provide for nothing except point blank self defense.

The MP-5 allowed us to establish fire superiority for a few seconds--maybe just long enough to drive around the corner.

That was probably not unique to the reserve components though.

We did arrive in theater without the kevlar flak vests, and were in Iraq for a couple of months before we managed to get them. They're lifesavers. And the Army's failure to equip their reserve component forces with them--while stocking up the active forces--was pretty embarrassing, and difficult to explain to our troops.

Well, make that impossible.

Eventually, though, we did some scrounging, and got some (thanks in large part to our attachments from the 116th Field Artillery. That scrounging saved two lives I know of.)

I'd love to see the poll breakdown between OIF I and OIF II.

I think we made some progress. But more needs to be made.


My M35 A3 trucks were nearly useless. The Florida guard acquired them years ago, on the cheap. But when we got to Iraq, we found that the chassis could not support sandbag hardening. And we also found that the parts for the trucks were not even in the Army inventory. The Army had long since switched to various models of 5-ton trucks, and the LMTV.

As a result, simple problems with our trucks that could have been fixed in a day or two -- or in a week if the parts could be trucked or flown in from Kuwait or Baghdad, took weeks, as parts had to be tracked down way back in the US. If they were available at all.

The 3rd ACR maintenance guys couldn't believe the Florida Guard was using these obsolete trucks. And we were an enhanced brigade!!! The maintenance situation in the remainder of the guard was even worse.

Moreover, even when we could run, the mismatch of 5 tons and 2 1/2 ton trucks caused us problems in the field, since 1.) parts could not be exchanged between the active and reserve component vehicles in a pinch, if I took two trucks on the road, and one was a 5 ton and one was a guard M35A3, and the 5-ton broke down, I couldn't tow the down truck in. I was stuck. We solved that by not running 5 tons except when they could be paired with another 5-ton, but that truck-juggling was a constant challenge. If the vehicles were more standardized, I could come up with a more modular solution.

We're trying to get our trucks replaced even now, but have so far been unable to do so.

But if any Guard unit is still in Iraq trying to make do with M35A3 2 1/2 ton trucks, I would say they are definitely ill-equipped.

Splash, out



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