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The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.

 
Mike Reizman
04/07/2005 09:16 AM
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The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
Billions for War, Garage Sales for Soldiers



The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.

By Mike Reizman

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I could have watched the March 19th anti-war protest in John Wayne’s shoes, so to speak. From the “legendary cement” in the forecourt of Mann’s Grauman´s Chinese Theatre, there was a nice view of Hollywood Boulevard engulfed in protesters. John Wayne, who left behind his boot prints and an impression of his fist, probably would’ve been peeved at the sight (though it’s impossible to know for sure). I found it cheery.

This was the end of the march, on a day full of light rain. A group of us had gathered in Grauman´s star-packed sanctuary for farewells. I looked around briefly at the cement slabs, noticing the prints of Joan Blondell, Marion Davies, and Mary Pickford. Back in the street, protesters, holding signs, banners, and umbrellas, faced the day’s speakers, who stood amplified on a flatbed blocked from our view.

Scanning the scene, I was surprised to see a young woman dancing in a window on the other side of the street. She was gyrating like a go-go dancer in an upper floor of a store called American Apparel. Too young to have been in earshot of the “long, withdrawing roar” of the sixties, she prompted an association to that time, faintly.

(By the way, all of the celebrity prints at Grauman’s face away from the street. So if I had matched my ragged tennis shoes with Wayne’s boots, I would have had to crane backwards for a look at the protest.)

Stop-Loss

Obviously, not everyone against the war feels able to participate in an anti-war demonstration. About two months ago, I saw this classified ad in a Southern Californian newspaper (not Hollywood): Support Our Soldier For Deployment!! Garage Sale! Saturday 7am-?

The mother of this since-deployed soldier told me outright that Bush lied to start the war. But she felt constrained. “You see,” she said emotionally, “…I’m torn because I feel that I have to support my son… I don’t talk a lot about it to him or my husband, the way I truly feel, because you know it’s just too hard when they support it and I don’t. It’s hard.

“So, that’s why I’m going to use my energy this next year, besides prayer, in writing to whoever I need to write to, and call to whoever I need to call to, to have them lift the Stop-Loss. And hopefully he’ll come home sooner if that happens. So that’s a positive way I think rather than protesting the war. I would never do that because I’d feel like that would be going against my son.”

Her son is 26 years old. He’s been in the Army for 5 ½ years, serving in South Korea and at two posts in the United States. His ETS date, the end of his term of service, was supposed to be in November 2005. The Stop-Loss policy has extended it three months to February 20, 2006, though it’s perfectly legal for the Army to keep him in Iraq even longer.

The Stop-Loss policy is often called the “backdoor draft.” It’s the legal mechanism that stops soldiers and reservists from leaving the military. Recruitment and re-enlistment numbers are down. Stop-Loss is one method the Army is using to keep up troop strength in Iraq.

Private Citizens Have Become Quartermasters

For fiscal year 2006, the Bush administration requested $438.8 billion for the Defense Department and the nuclear weapons functions of the Department of Energy (Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation). Appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are separate from those budgets. The Pentagon estimates that it is now spending approximately $5.6 billion per month on those wars.

In spite of all that money, worried parents and support groups across the country have bought body armor and other necessities for their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Texas non-profit organization called Supplied to Survive was founded to supply Marines in Iraq with items you’d expect the military to provide, such things as telescopic rifle and machine-gun sights, infrared blackout filters for Humvee headlights, GPS sets, vehicle tow straps, socks, toothpaste and toothbrush sets, batteries, moist wipes, etc. The organization’s largest donor, a “Platinum Corporate Partner,” gave $10,000.

In contrast, those two worried parents who held the garage sale had a modest wish list, and they weren’t expecting any corporate donors. Six families from their church had donated the usual garage sale cast-offs. Hoping to raise $1,000, they netted $500 at the end of the day.

It can get expensive gearing up for war. Their son also has to support his wife, a one-week old baby and an 18-month old. As his father explained, the army supplies some money for clothing and personal-care items, “but it appears it’s not enough.”

Their son had already been issued body armor. With the garage sale money, they wanted to enable him to buy whatever items he still needed from his unit packing list. His father also wanted to buy him a small digital camera. It was not for personal snapshots of the war, but “for work,” as his son put it. There was talk of buying extra uniforms, though it was not clear whether they would purchase any.

His parents also wanted to make sure he had a large enough supply of personal hygiene items. In transition to Iraq, there might not be too much time to buy any soap, vitamins, toothpaste, etc. Their son’s sergeant recommended Flintstone’s vitamins as a money saver -- a nettling suggestion to his mother. Though no vitamins are specifically formulated for the extreme stress of war, Flintstone’s vitamins, kid’s vitamins for her son going off to war, simply weren’t good enough. She would make sure he had a supply of good comprehensive vitamins.

Out of the $500 from the garage sale, her son told me that he wanted to buy four high-powered spot lights, one each for his team’s humvees. He’d also spend a small amount on extra patches (i.e., badges) for his uniforms and jacket. The Army provides the basics: name, U.S. Army, rank, and unit patches. All other patches are extra, but not required.

Mainly, he wanted to take extra cash with him as a backup for his team. The other guys were taking extra cash too. They wanted money for whatever might come up. Somebody might need a patch or socks, or a jacket, or maybe somebody might need a flak vest for more protection.

Dodd vs. DOD

In case you think that private purchases of combat gear have been rare, consider the Dodd amendment to the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Chris Dodd, the author of the amendment, explained, “This amendment was adopted after troubling reports surfaced that our men and women in uniform were digging deep into their own pockets or relying on charitable giving to buy such life-saving gear as bullet proof vests, vehicle armor, and medical supplies.”

The Dodd amendment provides “reimbursement for certain protective, safety, or health equipment purchased by or for members of the armed forces deployed” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claims can be made up to $1,100 for items purchased between September 11, 2001 and July 31, 2004.

The Pentagon was required by law to set up the reimbursement program by February 25, 2005. It has yet to comply. In early March, Senator Dodd sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking for an explanation.

Sound Off

If you think that Stop-Loss is unfair, or want to pressure the Pentagon to fulfill its legal obligation to set rules and standards for the reimbursement program, click herefor the Pentagon’s comment page.

Send a letter to:
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Mike Reizman is a writer, photographer, and web-based bookseller. He can be reached at mreizman@earthlink.net.

Posted Monday, April 4, 2005


[link to www.interventionmag.com]
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
Im a 2 time gulf vet..Real lovely isnt it? Its Pretty sad when you go to get issued a flak vest and the supply squadron tells you there are some being shipped that they are all out and it will take about 2 weeks...hhmmmppph been there done it!
Bullshit!
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
Mike Reizman and the STUPID OP that posted this are the most PATHETIC form of IGNORANT ASSWIPES that you can find on this earth.

YOU CAN BET ALL YOUR MONEY that the military supplies the soldiers with ALL THEY NEED to fight with. Anything else the families THINK they need is just that, THEIR OPINION. Since they have never fought before, and have NO REAL IDEA what conditions are like, THEY ARE TALKING OUT OF THEIR ASS, just like this Reizman ASSHOLE.

In other words, the article is BULLSHIT, the poster is BULLSHIT and the whole concept is B U L L S H I T ! ! !

Gee, did I forget anything.....nope.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
Well, that would be just fine, because many of you dance with glee upon hearing of any American soldier´s death, and spit on them every chance you get.

Now, you pretend that you care about their getting the proper equipment? Bullshit.

You couldn´t care less about them. Or the facts. It´s just another lame excuse to blame the administration for something.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
BULLSHIT

Dont call me out Im not saying Im agreeing with any report Im just stated what I went through, there were times supplies were late, some never showed, It happens if you were over in the sandbox and your telling me that you never had any glitches on recieving ANY kind of supplies at all id say you were a fucking officer that sat at a desk in and ECU conditioned tent!! And probally didnt see a day of action accept bingo night by the SWIMMING pool at Prince Sultan Air Base. And lived in a concrete constructed dormitory.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
The stinking pile of monkey shit smelling up this thread is a repuke nazi faggot who´s never been to war and is in love with Rummy.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
poopbsflag
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
I´ll put this up against stinking pile of monkey shit´s usual one line of bullshit.


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Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:06 AM
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Re: The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
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