Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Blunder Bus Rolls On

The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld top command had plenty of company in mismanaging the war in Iraq, a Pentagon study shows.

Hundreds of U.S. Marines were killed or injured by roadside bombs when Marine Corps bureaucrats refused urgent requests in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles.

The study disclosed today by the AP accuses the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years.

Stateside paper shufflers sidetracked orders for the heavily armored MRAPs that could have prevented casualties from the IEDs that were decimating US troops on the basis of their cost of almost $1 million each to expedite plans for lighter vehicles still on the drawing board.

Without the knowledge of the Marine Corps Commandant, a field General's requests were sent to a civilian logistics official in suburban Washington. "As a result," the study contends, "there was more concern over how the MRAP would upset the Marine Corps' supply and maintenance chains than there was in getting the troops a truck that would keep them alive."

It was only when current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the trucks the top priority last year that the vehicles started to be shipped in large quantities.

More than 800 Marines have been killed and almost 8400 wounded in Iraq, most of them by explosive devices. The former Marine officer who wrote the report had to file for whistle-blower protection last year with the US Office of Special Counsel after being threatened with disciplinary action for meeting with Congressional staff members.

The Corps seems to have moved more swiftly to protect bureaucrats and their bosses than troops in the field.

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