Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Little Scottie, as the preznit’s press secretary, really should be reading newspaper accounts of what is happening to our men and women in Iraq.

First, the news:

During a press conference Sunday, [ Brig. Gen. James] Chambers said the Army will study protective measures for supply vehicles and add steel plating if necessary. Some of the soldiers told family members they refused the assignment because they lacked proper equipment and protection.

Chambers said the command will “assess armor” on supply vehicles, which are often subject to insurgent attack, and add steel plating if necessary.

[snip]

Chambers has since ordered the 343rd to undergo a “safety-maintenance stand down,” during which it will conduct no further missions as the unit’s vehicles are inspected, the military said.

[snip]

The issue of lack of appropriate equipment has been a longstanding complaint by low-level soldiers and higher U.S. command.

Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq from mid-2003 till this summer, sent a letter to the Pentagon last December complaining that supplies were short and that this was adversely affecting the ability of troops to fight, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Sanchez, who has returned to an assignment in Germany, told top Army officials in the Dec. 4 letter that there was a severe lack of key parts for equipment vital to the mission and that the problem was so severe that “I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low,” the newspaper said.

Now, Heeeeeere’s Scottie:

Q How about a response to Sanchez?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look — you’re talking about the Washington Post article?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is the one who supported and fought for the $87 billion in funding for the necessary resources for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. His opponent opposed the $87 billion to provide our troops with equipment and resources they needed to do the job.

Q Scott, that’s not the issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it is the issue. And this is something that was — a letter, I think you’re referring to, from last December, worked it’s way up through the chain of command. And when those issues come to our attention, we address those issues and make sure that they’re addressed.

Q What about Sanchez, though, saying 10 months ago that he needed more troops?

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s what I just said, that when those issues come — come up through the chain of command —

Q Did he —

MR. McCLELLAN: Wait — more troops? I’m not sure what you’re referring to in terms of more troops.

Q Supplies?

MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of supplies?

Q Supplies.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you’re mischaracterizing —

Q I forget what word it was.

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s what I said, when issues like that come to the attention of the commanders and work their way up through the chain of command, then we make sure that those issues are addressed. The President always makes sure that our troops have the resources they need to get the job done. Senator Kerry is the one who opposed giving our troops the equipment and resources they needed when he voted against the $87 billion for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q What was the President’s response back in December when he heard of Sanchez’s concerns?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think this is one that went — again, this is one that went up through the Pentagon chain of command to leaders at the Pentagon.

Q The President wasn’t aware, back in December, that Sanchez had trouble getting body armor, had trouble getting spare parts for —

MR. McCLELLAN: Hold on a second — hold on a second. I think you’re mischaracterizing some of these issues. That’s why I said, the President is committed to making sure that our troops have all the resources they need to complete their mission. And when issues like this come to — come to the — come to our attention, we make sure that they are addressed. And that’s what’s been done in this instance, as the Pentagon talked about in the article.

Q Scott, are you saying that $87 billion, when appropriated, dealt with all those issues?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the $87 billion provided funding for body armor and other equipment and supplies.

Q But you’re saying that’s why Sanchez wrote the letter in December, and the problem was —

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, we’re landing. Sorry. Thanks. I’ll continue later.