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Bush Still Neglecting the Troops

June 21st, 2005

In case anyone has forgotten, the Bush administration doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the troops fighting their wars. Once the photo op is over, Bush couldn’t care less about whether they live or die. Beyond cutting their benefits and their combat pay, beyond backdoor drafts and forcing troops to serve far longer than any reasonable expectations would allow, beyond forcing them to pay for hospital food when they get maimed and cutting VA support when wounded soldiers get back home, the Bush administration is simply not giving them the equipment they need to stay alive. The same administration which has no trouble giving hundreds of billions of dollars in new, additional tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires every year can’t even be bothered to spend $600 per soldier on stuff like personal armor to keep them from getting killed:

Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod called home with news that his superiors were urging him and fellow Marines to buy special military equipment, including flak jackets with armor plating, to enhance the prospects of their survival. …

Besides the essential flak jacket with steel “trauma” plates, the shopping list for the young Marine included a Camelbak (water pouch) special ballistic goggles, knee and elbow pads, a “drop pouch” to hold ammunition magazines and a load-bearing vest. [story via DKos]

Soldiers are being told that they have to buy their own equipment, or “when they get to Iraq they will wish they had.”

This is so typical of this administration–oozing endlessly about how they care about a constituency and then quietly savaging them when the cameras have turned away. Even with all the other crap the Bush administration is doing, this has got to be among the worst. Not that it’s new, of course–if you recall, troops had to (still have to?) use “hillbilly armor” to protect their vehicles from roadside bomb attacks and other assaults because the Bush administration failed to provide them with the armored vehicles they needed, and then lied about the availability of the armor. They only started providing it when one soldier had the guts to press Rumsfeld on it personally.

And when soldiers do fall in battle, don’t expect any respect then. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld–none of them bother to contact the bereaved families or even sign the letters sent to them, and their flag-draped coffins are carefully hidden from public view, firing the people who dared release such images. And when Bush did attend the funeral of one Australian soldier, the widow was purposefully not invited to the photo op.

This is a truly sickening, though not wholly unexpected, aspect of the Bush administration.

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