When a serviceman asked him about a lack of vehicle armor for vehicles heading north into Iraq, Rumsfeld replied, "You go to war with the Army you have."
The article describes Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asking the Defense Secretary why soldiers had to dig through landfills for scrap metal and old bullet-proof glass to uparmor their vehicles. Rumsfeld "replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face and the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible."
If the need is there, I can't help but think of WWII when vast sectors of US industry were re-purposed toward producing necessary war items like tanks and planes. Americans were asked to forgo new cars, silk stockings, most things requiring metal, all in the name of keeping our boys Over There armed and prepared. To my knowledge, no such sacrifice has been requested of us this time around. As much as I oppose the war, if they aren't properly armed and armored over there, for god's sake, I'll give up whatever it takes. "Just make do," seems like a lousy way to maintain morale.
Of course, he didn't leave it at that:
And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.Gee, thanks.
"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.
Of course, even in his prepared, nonchallenged remarks, Rumsfeld sounded a bit hollow:
In his opening remarks, Rumsfeld stressed that soldiers who are heading to Iraq should not believe those who say the insurgents cannot be defeated or who otherwise doubt the will of the military to win.Again, I remind you, Mr. Secretary, "we must win" is not a reasonable counterargument to "we can't win." "We must win" isn't a strategy. It isn't even a tactic. It's a goal. An overriding ideal. But it does nothing to rebut those who argue the insurgency is far worse than we see on the nightly news - and is growing. Rumsfeld sees violence and it convinces him that we must win. Well, yeah, I guess. That's a nice thought - but how are you going to do that? Continuing to reject reality seems to be losing its efficacy, don't you think?
"They say we can't prevail. I see that violence and say we must win," Rumsfeld said.
Update: Then, there's this:
Camp Pendleton -- On a gray wintry morning at this huge Southern California Marine base, President Bush offered an unusually sober assessment Tuesday of the war in Iraq, acknowledging that the insurgency is getting worse, that newly trained Iraqi soldiers are fighting poorly at times and that the war's casualties are taking a heavy toll on military families. . . .Though the remarks are explained away in freedom-hater terms, to a large extent, I give some credit to the acknowledgement of truth. I also appreciate the call for Americans to volunteer and do what they can to welcome, comfort, and aid returning service men and women and their families. However, never forget Bush's efforts to cut Veteran's benefits, pay, and his administrations failure to plan properly for the physical and psychic toll of this war. Fostering a volunteer spirit is good - but commiting adequate government resources to all aspects of the war is better.
Bush, who frequently has spoken in the past tense of victories achieved, talked of "eventually" stabilizing Iraq and commented almost wistfully about defeating the enemy in the future. He also said returning troops need more help than they are getting, a particularly poignant theme at this sprawling base, which has been hit harder than most -- 269 Marines killed in action in Iraq and thousands more wounded.
After declaring, "We should be doing more," Bush issued an urgent plea for Americans to support the troops with volunteer efforts and to give them the kind of welcome home that, he noted, returning Vietnam veterans were denied a generation ago.
"The time of war is a time of sacrifice, especially for our military families,'' the president said after describing some voluntary programs to assist the troops. "I urge every American to find some way to thank our military and to help out the military family down the street.''