Who knew? Who knew? That the basic needs of our soldiers overseas are being met by...the Pentagon? The Armed Services Committee, on Capitol Hill? No? How about 'viewers like you'?
Yes, as this story from today's Fresno Bee suggests, it is charity from home, from ordinary citizens, that is bridging the gap in Iraq and Afghanistan, not the eight-figures of military expenditures. As the article mentions, "Bore Snakes join a list of other battle-related materials that citizen groups have supplied when the military did not issue them, including body armor and gloves to protect soldiers' hands from the heated barrels of their weapons."
What's a Bore Snake? Read the article, and admire the unqualified patriotism of Madera resident Jim Kochheiser and others. I mean that, in every way. I admire their patriotism, but it is unqualified: they shrink from anything that could reasonably be interpreted as criticism. "Why the Army doesn't issue them is someone else's fight," says Jim.
Well...OK...at the risk of being contentious, I think our soldiers deserve better. Unfortunately for them, and for us, the bulk of the over $100 billion spent on this adventure has not been spent on giving the troops overwhelming tactical superiority on the ground today (which would, hasten the end of the present US occupation). Rather, it has been invested in what the neo-cons fervently hope is a long-term strategic asset: the construction, on a grand scale all but unrivaled in our history, of a permanent US military presence in Iraq.
Regardless of where we sit on the political spectrum, this is an underreported story and it is this investment, more than anything else, that gives the lie to the wishful thinking of some on the left, that a Democrat in the White House will mean a quick US exit from Iraq. At best, we have a situation akin to South Korea, with an ongoing annual investment of thousands of troops and billions of dollars to maintain a US military presence in the Iraqi desert, but one that does not require constant urban deployment of American forces to prop up the national government. We hope.
On another front, the Army has finally admitted what many of us have known for all along: that the tragic death of Pat Tillman was an unfortunate case of 'friendly fire' and that members of the Army conspired to keep embarrassing details about the former NFL star's death under wraps. One wonders if, at some point, they will also salve their consciences with a public repudiation of the attempt to smear Tillman and his family for non-conforming beliefs.
Posted by Scott Hatfield . . . . at 9:10 AM