Essentially re-requesting the amount he wanted for the war this fiscal year by requesting the difference (and then some), Bush is playing on our feelings of common sense and sympathy to obtain the funding that General Petraeus recommended for the efficient continuation of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The money, Bush reported today, will be used for extra bullets, body armor, IED-resistant vehicles and training that our troops in the Middle East and Central Asia need to protect themselves and carry on the fight.
Last month, Congress approved $150 billion for the two conflicts our nation is engaged in. This is $40 billion less than Petraeus and Bush recommended. Why is the extra $40-$46 billion being asked for? There are basic costs of warfare that simply cannot be skimped on: vehicle maintenance, replacing damaged or destroyed equipment, medical treatment, payment of death insurance premiums, basic training for replacement troops, hazard pay, extended supply lines, and all manner of other operations that simply can’t be done away with. Unfortunately, things like body armor, improved vehicle armor, extra ammunition (say, 300 rounds rather than 60 rounds — enough to sustain a soldier through intense fighting and still have a little extra to go home with) and specialized training are the first things to get cut when the budget comes up short. Our armed services don’t really need these things, at least not the way they need food, housing and their military insurance benefits. But in a campaign that wants to be a peace-keeping mission and yet often behaves very much like open war, these are the things that our soldiers and marines need in order to believe a citizenry that claims to “support our troops.”
It’s not just moral support they need. Give them body armor. Protect their vehicles from roadside bombs. Train them well. This is the support our troops want so very much to see.
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