Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hillary Clinton Requests Action on Ill-Equipped Troops

I've been critical of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) lately for her failure to show more leadership in opposing the policies of George W. Bush, but I also think it's important to give credit where and when it is due.

Clinton's office announced Monday that she is acting on recent revelations showing that a large number of troops who have died in Iraq could have been saved if they were better equipped. A Pentagon study showed that up to 80 percent of Marine deaths from torso injuries might have been prevented if those killed had been wearing improved body armor.

In a press release, Senator Clinton said that she was calling on the Senate Armed Services Committee – on which she is a member -- to conduct hearings to investigate these reports. In addition, Clinton has asked for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation to focus on how the Pentagon’s procurement decisions were made for existing equipment and has called on the Army to provide additional body armor for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"With United States troops risking their lives daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we owe it to them to make sure they have the best equipment possible," said Clinton in a letter to Senator John Warner (R-VA), the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "According to these recent reports, the Pentagon is failing that responsibility."

"I urge you to call hearings as soon as possible to investigate these recent reports and hold the Pentagon accountable for providing adequate armor for our men and women in uniform."

Clinton also sent a letter to Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, demanding that efforts to fully protect troops in Iraq and Afghanistan be accelerated.

"The [Armed Forces Medical Examiner] study concluded that greater body armor protection could have saved lives in Iraq," Clinton said of the study, which examined only U.S. Marine casualties. "Indeed, the number of lives lost to inadequate body armor could reach the hundreds if Army deaths attributable to inadequate armor not included in this survey are counted as well."

Every little bit of holding George W. Bush accountable for the actions of his administration is helpful and, if this is a sign that Senator Clinton is awakening from her long sleep, it will be most welcome indeed.