This press conference by Major General Stephen Speakes and several other officers, which took place on Wednesday, is worth reading in its entirety. The purpose of the press conference was to address the issue of “un-armored” vehicles that was raised by a National Guardsman in a question directed to Donald Rumsfeld a week or so ago. The overall impression I get is that the Army is responding appropriately to the risks posed by improvised explosive devices, and there is basically no story here.
The facts regarding the Guardsman’s own unit also appear to be quite different from what has been reported:
The first point is that you’ll recollect that one of the questions was the status of the 278 ACR; in other words, the date that we had the visit by the secretary of Defense, we had a question about their up-armoring status. When the question was asked, 20 vehicles remained to be up-armored at that point. We completed those 20 vehicles in the next day. And so over 800 vehicles from the 278 ACR were up-armored, and they are a part now of their total force that is operating up in Iraq.
Q On the 278th, can you repeat this? At the time the question was asked, the planted question, the unit had 784 of its 804 vehicles armored?
GEN. SPEAKES: Here is the overall solution that you see. And what we’ve had to do is — the theater had to take care of 830 total vehicles. So this shows you the calculus that was used. Up north in Iraq, they drew 119 up-armored humvees from what we call stay-behind equipment. That is equipment from a force that was already up there. We went ahead and applied 38 add-on armor kits to piece of equipment they deployed over on a ship. They also had down in Kuwait 214 stay- behind equipment pieces that were add-on armor kits. And then over here they had 459 pieces of equipment that were given level-three protection. And so when you put all this together, that comes up with 830.
Q At the time of the question — summarize this, now — that unit that the kid was complaining about was mostly armored?
GEN. SPEAKES: Yes. In other words, we completed all the armoring within 24 hours of the time the question was asked.
Q If he hadn’t asked that question, would the up-armoring have been accomplished within 24 hours?
GEN. SPEAKES: Yes. This was already an existing program.
It is remarkable that many Democrats are demanding that Rumsfeld resign over this teapot tempest.
Thanks to reader Evert Visser for the link.
UPDATE: A day late and a dollar short as usual, the Dems have jumped on the armor hoax with both feet.