Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stupid politician tricks

A couple of Democrat legislators, State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and State Rep. Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna, have, along with others, introduced a bill that would have the state pay for a different type of body armor than is currently issued to troops in Iraq. It requires that any Wisconsin Guard or Reserve personnel called into combat, be provided with the "highest quality" (whatever that means) body armor, apparently preferring the judgment of the adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard to that of those who are actually in charge of the fighting.

Xoff is in high moral dungeon because the GOP won't support the bill. He thinks that "a recent Pentagon study that showed 80% of Marine casualties in Iraq could have been avoided with extra body armor." He apparently thinks nothing is being done about it.

First, the study didn't show that 80% of casualties could be avoided. It claims that 80% of deaths from wounds to the upper torso might have been avoided by a combination of additional protection, side plates and shoulder plates. It suggests that 300 deaths in total might have been prevented which is actually less than 18% of combat fatalities. (You can read the New York Times report of its findings here.)

That's a far cry from 80%. It is a still a significant number, but that doesn't mean that provision of extra armor would have saved lives. The Marines have been - and still are - reluctant to use the additional body armor, not because they don't "care," but because they are "concerned that ceramic shoulder plates would be too restrictive. Similarly, they said they believe the chest and back plates are as large as they can be without unduly limiting the movement of troops."

I have never been in combat - or even played paintball - but my guess is that lack of mobility can also get you killed.

And therein lies the point. I guess I trust the Marines more than I trust Sen. Hansen and Rep. Nelson to decide what does and doesn't work in combat. In any event, the last time I pulled out my pocket constitution, the President, and not the Wisconsin legislature, was the commander-in-chief of our armed forces.

Finally, based on this study, the Marines and the Army are increasing their use of side plates.

I have always thought that one of many reasons that I'd make a poor politico is that I would have a hard time pretending that cheap bush league political posturing of the type Hansen and Nelson are engaged should actually be taken seriously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For one Marine's description of how cumbersome all of this protection can be, see First Lt. Jeffrey D. Barnett's blog at the NYT's Frontlines page: