The Wrong Camouflage on U.S. Troops in Iraq
The Wrong Camouflage on U.S. Troops in Iraq
By Pat Choate 03-25-03 -World Exclusive-
I have a very close friend who fought bravely in Viet Nam in the Marine Corps. He opposes the war in Iraq, but now that combat has begun, he strongly supports the troops. My friend e-mailed me some pictures of U.S. Marines fighting in Iraq and then called to ask what was wrong with all these pictures. I had no answer.
"Look closer", he said, "the uniforms on our soldiers are for fighting in the jungle. The green camouflage highlights them against the pale desert for the Iraqi marksmen."
His is the voice of combat experience. The right camouflage can help save our soldiers lives. The irony, of course, is that for months the advocates of this war have touted all the high-tech equipment being deployed to help speed victory. Tens of thousands of sophisticated night vision gadgets, for instance, were distributed so our troops could fight at night while the Iraqis would be blinded by the dark.
Yet, American troops were put into battle with the wrong camouflage on their uniforms, boots and flak jackets. It is a deep green used for fighting in the jungle. In the pictures, desert colored helmet covers are being used -which highlights the larger mistake even more.
As I studied the pictures, I also quickly noticed that the generals and defense department civilians being shown on television or in the newspapers are wearing desert colored uniforms.
The question, of course, is this: How did it come to be that our war fighters are being sent into desert battle with jungle colored uniforms, flak jackets, and boots?
One source claims that some time ago the Services chose to make body armor vests in green only. And perhaps the Defense Department has no chemical or biological proof uniforms other than those in jungle colors. Yet some war fighters seem properly equipped. I doubt these official explanations.
Our leaders have known that war with Iraq was coming for almost a year. They also know that Iraq does not have jungles. It has sand.
A major reason for this mistake is that our civilian and military leaders have focused on high-tech weapons and ignored the basics, such as getting enough of the right uniforms and boots to the right people at the right time.
Another reason is that this mistake cannot be corrected quickly because a succession of Presidents and Congress's have allowed the U.S. manufacturing base to deteriorate so far that the nation lacks enough manufacturing capacity to quickly supply what is now required without totally disrupting the domestic economy.
A quarter century ago, for instance, the United States had a large and prosperous shoe industry. It employed literally hundreds of thousands of people in New England and the Southern United States. When foreign manufacturers and U.S. retailers began to flood the American market with goods from penny-wage foreign factories, the U.S. Government passively stood by as the U.S. shoe industry was destroyed.
Now, when our troops need several hundred thousand boots immediately, a domestic shoe industry and the skilled shoemakers it requires are not here for us. The Department of Defense must rely on foreign producers for such emergency surge production.
The same dilemma exists for getting the right uniforms on our soldiers. As recently as 15 years ago, the United States had a large and prosperous apparel industry, which was fully capable of shifting from domestic to emergency military production. Then, American factories and American workers could have quickly produced the uniforms our troops need. Today, those factories that remain cannot.
There is a lesson here. Fighting wars successfully requires more than high technology suppliers. Our troops may be able to see the Iraqis better at night because they have high-tech vision enhancers. But the Iraqis can see our troops better during the day because we have them in the wrong uniforms.
In sum, superpowers cannot depend upon others to produce the materials of war they require, including shoes and uniforms. That capacity must exist within the borders of the nation. Otherwise, superpower soldiers will be forced to fight a desert war in jungle uniforms- as ours are now.
When this war is over, this life-threatening mistake requires a full investigation.
For now, however, I offer one simple suggestion. As long as our troops in Iraq are forced to wear jungle camouflage, the generals and Defense Department civilians serving there should wear the same. While this may not solve the problem, it will highlight it in a way that will help ensure it never happens again.
I C H firstname.lastname@example.org
MR. BUSH, YOU ARE A CRIMINAL.
Sun Apr 6 22:22:34 2003
MR. BUSH, YOU ARE A CRIMINAL.
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