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20 Aug 07
By Sgt. Sara Wood
American Forces Press Service
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WASHINGTON – U.S. troops serving in Iraq will have a little more protection soon, as two of the military’s newest armored vehicles are on their way to the theater.

Two Buffalo Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as “MRAPs,” were loaded onto C-5 Galaxy aircraft Thursday night at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., to be shipped to Iraq. This latest shipment is part of the Defense Department’s push to get as many of the new vehicles to troops in combat as quickly as possible.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been pushing the production and delivery of MRAPs, which boast a V-shaped hull that deflects bomb blasts and protects troops inside better than the military’s current vehicles. The Defense Department awarded two more contracts for the vehicles the week of Aug. 10, which brings the number of vehicles on contract to 6,415. An estimated 3,500 MRAPs are expected to be shipped to Iraq by Dec. 31.

The MRAPs are shipped to Iraq by the 437th Airlift Wing, out of Charleston. The vehicles are part of the 300 tons of cargo the unit moves on a daily basis. It typically takes two days to airlift the MRAPs to Iraq, said Cynthia Bauer, a public affairs officer with U.S. Transportation Command, which oversees the movement of the vehicles. A small number of MRAPs are taken by sea, which takes between 22 and 30 days, she said.

As of Aug. 9, Transportation Command had shipped 701 MRAPs and MRAP-like vehicles to the Central Command area, Ms. Bauer said. The command will continue to ship the vehicles as military commanders in theater request them, she said.

MRAPs come in three categories: Category I vehicles are designed for urban combat operations and can transport six people; Category II vehicles have multi-mission capabilities, including convoy lead, troop transport, ambulance, explosive ordnance disposal and combat engineering, and can transport up to 10 people; Category III vehicles perform mine and IED clearance operations and explosive ordnance disposal and can transport six people, or five with additional equipment. The Buffalos that were shipped Thursday fall under Category III.

The troops who participated in loading the vehicles yesterday told local media that they feel their job is important, because the MRAPs have been proven to save lives in combat. “It’s absolutely critical. It saves lives every day when they have them,” Air Force Master Sgt. Jared Breyer, with the 437th Airlift Wing, told ABC News.

Photo – A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle is loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy aircraft Aug. 16 at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Air Mobility Command assists with the movement of MRAP vehicles to U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility as directed by the National Command Authority, the Joint Staff and U.S. Transportation Command. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson.

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Reading all the threats everyday that this country is facing, sure can get to a person. That is why Uncle Jimbo is such a great guy. I can always count on him to lift my spirits. He has the right words at the right time to apply to right people. You just have to read his take on Hillary’s question given to the Defense Department. He is spot-on!

Would you like to know the question? Okay, here it is:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On May 22, 2007, I wrote to you to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress – including the Senate Armed Services Committee – with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, I asked for an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning.

I am in receipt of a letter from Eric Edelman, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy who wrote that he was responding on your behalf. Under Secretary Edelman’s response did not address the issues raised in my letter and instead made spurious arguments to avoid addressing contingency planning for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

As I noted in my original letter, “the seeds of many problems that continue to plague our troops and mission in Iraq were planted in the failure to adequately plan for the conflict and properly equip our men and women in uniform. Congress must be sure that we are prepared to withdraw our forces without any unnecessary danger.”

Rather than offer to brief the congressional oversight committees on this critical issue, Under Secretary Edelman – writing on your behalf – instead claims that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies. Under Secretary Edelman has his priorities backward. Open and honest debate and congressional oversight strengthens our nation and supports our military. His suggestion to the contrary is outrageous and dangerous. Indeed, you acknowledged the importance of Congress in our Iraq policy at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in March, when you stated, “I believe that the debate here on the Hill and the issues that have been raised have been helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government and on the Iraqis in knowing that there is a very real limit to American patience in this entire enterprise.”

Redeploying out of Iraq will be difficult and requires careful planning. I continue to call on the Bush Administration to immediately provide a redeployment strategy that will keep our brave men and women safe as they leave Iraq – instead of adhering to a political strategy to attack those who rightfully question their competence and preparedness after years of mistakes and misjudgments.

Other members of this Administration have not engaged in political attacks when the prospect of withdrawal planning has been raised. At the June 7 Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, I asked General Lute “what level of planning has taken place” and “whether the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs have been briefed about the level of planning.” I also asked General Lute to determine “what kind of timeline would exist if a decision for either military or political reasons were taken to begin withdrawal” and if he considered this kind of planning to be part of his responsibilities.

General Lute replied, “Thank you Senator. I do think such an adaptation, if the conditions on the ground call for it, will be part of this position.”

I renew my request for a briefing, classified if necessary, on current plans for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq or an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning. I also renew my concern that our troops will be placed in unnecessary danger if the Bush Administration fails to plan for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces. Finally, I request that you describe whether Under Secretary Edelman’s letter accurately characterizes your views as Secretary of Defense.

I would appreciate the courtesy of a prompt response directly from you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Hillary Rodham Clinton

(Hat tip: MyDD. Be careful. It’s a ‘Leftie for Hillary’ site I got it from. lol)

If you will notice, her letter to him was released for publication. Was his? I don’t know, but I doubt it. (Won’t swear to it, though.) Anyway, I thought Uncle Jimbo handled this just fine. Yes, fine indeed. Go over and have a great laugh and a great day!

Trackback @ DoD Daily News.

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