Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Iraq: US Combat troops malnourished

US troops in Iraq do not have enough food. Rather than enjoy cards or small trinkets, the troops are communicating back to families that they don't have enough supplies.

Requests aren't simply for extras like special music or posters. Rather, the troops are rejecting offers of household snacks. They desperately want simple things like cans of meat, and canned food that has water in it. Apparently they don't have enough water for the simple packages of dried soup.

Generally, when planning combat operations commanders need three things: Food, ammunition, and fuel.

The President claims the commanders are getting what they need. Congress is appropriating supplemental funds.

It remains to be understood:

  • How many Iraqi families notice food missing from their homes after US forces raid their home

  • How long the Senate Armed Service Committee Staffers have known about the food distribution problems

  • Why US government personnel -- not stationed in Iraq -- have time to "not do official business" -- but there are insufficient funds to pay for the highest priority items in a combat zone.

  • Why the "no-notice visits" to the combat theater are well coordinated

    What needs to happen:

    - Real no notice visits need to be made to the US military-contractors providing food distribution to find out how much food is being withheld from front line combat forces, and is being held in reserve for lower=priority civilian-contractor support efforts

    - Home visits to Iraqis to inquire whether they notice missing items from their homes after US troops "visit" -- encourage the Iraqis to carefully notice their personal items, food, and other things in their homes to notice whether small food items are being stolen.

    - US Military attorneys need to provide information on the UCMJ violations related to petty theft related to small hand-carry items which can be easily hidden in combat uniforms

    - President needs to explain to the public why the supplemental appropriations are not providing sufficient food to the combat troops

    - Public needs to know what volume of food is required to meet the minimum daily calorie intake for combat troops -- much higher than a normal diet -- and get a sense of how much additional food needs to be provided in care packages sent to the troops in Iraq


    What's amazing is this many years into Iraq, the US Government still is unable to credibly provide basic resources needed to house and supply combat forces engaged in non-combat activities.

    Napoleon faced a tough winter. America controls Iraq, but is unable to get food into the country.

    It remains to be understood why the reports of food problems aren't sending shockwaves along the Potomac. We've been lied to about where this money is going, how it is being spent, whether it is supporting the troops.

    Military contractors like Halliburton appear to have mismanaged millions of dollars. The issue is where is the missing food; and why aren't the shortfalls appearing in the media, Congressional statements, or findings of Congress.

    Someone outside Congress needs to get a sense of how much food the troops really need to support their basic operations.

    The issue is important. It's not simply about Iraq and US troops -- it's about which other sectors in the military are under supported. Clearly, the training dollars have been expended well before the end of the fiscal year.

    Perhaps we should not be surprised why Katrina highlighted many problems. The American government is unable to apply the lessons of Napoleon--We have the technology, we just can’t get it where it needs to be.