One thing the press didn't mention much was this quote regarding the armament of vehicles...
"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe -- it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment."
In other words, the Army believes that equiping 13 vehicles a day with armor is not only a significant improvement... it's the best that can be done... and Rumsfeld feels that this state of affairs is an Army issue, and therefore not something he has any control over as Secretary of Defense.
Great. Just great.
And now, the questions:
Q: I was wanting to know why I cannot enlist as a single parent in the regular Army, but I can enlist in the National Guard and be deployed?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't have the vaguest idea. But by golly, we're looking for folks in the Army. You ought to be able to enlist in the Army and I'll try and figure out how in the world you ought to be able to do it.
So, Rumsfeld's answer is that Reservists who have kids that depend upon them don't deserve the same rights as regular Army. His "solution" is that they should wait until they (and their young children...) have been screwed over by the Reserves for several years, at which point they can sign up to join the Army. Gee, thanks.
Q: My question is what is (being done) to address shortages and antiquated equipment that National Guard soldiers . . . are going to roll into Iraq with?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The -- now settle down. Settle down. Hell, I'm an old man and it's early in the morning. I didn�t take -- just gathering my thoughts here. In any organization you're going to have equipment and materials and spare parts of different ages. And I am told -- and no way I can prove it, but I'm told -- that the Army is breaking its neck to see that there is not a differentiation as to who gets what aged materials in the military, in the Army, as between the active force, the Guard and the Reserve. I'm told that they are, instead, trying to see that the equipment goes to those that are in the most need and who are most likely to be using it - the equipment. And that varies among the Guard and Reserve and the active force.
...in other words, the reservists get the shittier equipment. ;-)
Q: Mr. Secretary . . . We're helping -- or trying to help -- about 150 soldiers get their contingency travel pay. We�ve gone through the chain of command; we've tried IG channels. These soldiers have gone -- some since July -- without getting travel pay. Thousands of dollars, they're having creditors call them at home, call their spouses at home, threatening collection action. We have a big problem. There seems to be a problem with the Defense Finance Accounting Service.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Can someone here get the details of the unit he's talking about? That�s just not right. Folks have earned money and are due money, ought to be able to get the money and they ought not to have to put their families under stress while they're waiting for the money.
In other words, I didn't know about this. Well, not *I* meaning *me*, but I meaning Rumsfeld. I've heard about these kinds of problems for months. Hell... you can't help but hearing soldiers complain about how the military has screwed them over on getting them money due to them. Maybe I hear from more soldiers than Rumsfeld does... not that it's my job or anything.
Q: Mr. Secretary, my question is with the current mission of the National Guard and Reserves being the same as our active duty counterparts, when are more of our benefits going to line up to the same as theirs, for example, retirement?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't imagine anyone your age worrying about retirement. Good grief. It's the last thing I want to do is retire. The pay and benefits for the Guard and the Reserve relative to the active force have been going up unevenly at a rate faster than the active force. . . the incremental changes that are made each year, in terms of pay and benefits and health care and retirement . . . have brought the Guard and Reserve up at a faster level than the active force. . . if anything, I think the data suggests that the Guard and Reserve forces had been advantaged relatively compared to the active force over the past four years.
Short answer: Never. Besides, you may not even live to see retirement anyway. Now don't you wish you joined the Army instead of becoming a "weekend warrior"? Long weekend, eh? Sucker! Hey... how'd you like to re-up?!
Q: My husband and myself, we both joined a volunteer Army. Currently, I�m serving under the Stop Loss Program. I would like to know how much longer do you foresee the military using this program?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The Stop Loss has been used by the military for years and years and years. It's all well understood when someone volunteers to join the service. It is something that you prefer not to have to use, obviously, in a perfect world . . . It's basically a sound principle. It's nothing new. It's been well understood. It's been used as little as possible. And my guess is that it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used.
Short answer: Never. Next time, read the fine print before signing on the dotted line. Be glad you're not a reservist like that other guy. By the way... would you like to reenlist too?!
Lastly, I wanted to point out just how ludicrous it is that Rumsfeld is still trying to blame the state of the military on Clinton. Let's assume that Rumsfeld was learning his job or was otherwise impaired prior to 9/11. Well, just days after 9/11, he *KNEW* that Iraq was on the short list for invasion... so why are our soldiers still trying to get armored vehicles and enough ammunition to practice with. Even if you cut him a break, he's had 39 months to get our military in shape. What gives?!
How long is 39 months? In December 1941, the US Pacific fleet was decimated at Pearl Harbor.Hitler's Germany controlled the European mainland and his army was at the gates of Moscow... and 80,000 US troops were cut off (and eventually forced to surrender) in the Philippines.
And 39 months later... the Japanese Navy was decimated, it's cities in ruins from constant firebomb attacks. Iwo Jima fell, Okinawa was on the chopping block, and US armies crossed the Rhine into the heart of Germany, cutting off over 300,000 German soldiers.
So, when Rumsfeld says that equiping 13 armed vehicles a day is the best our country can do after 39 months, I have to laugh. A lot. Derisively, even.