Posted by andreas from p3EE3C346.dip.t-dialin.net (220.127.116.11) on Friday, October 04, 2002 at 6:40AM :
3 October 2002
Ready for war?
Behind all the headlines about Bush and co getting tough on Iraq, some are claiming that the US military may be ill-prepared for war.
Officials at the US Defence Department are worried that American troops will be at 'risk of needless deaths from a chemical or biological attack' if they go into Iraq because of 'inadequate training [and] protective gear' (1). This follows other revelations this week: a recent US military audit found that 'the Pentagon has lost track of up to 250,000 defective chemical warfare suits' (2); the US marines have hundreds of 'damaged parachutes' that could cause 'injury or death if used'; and according to the US Navy's chief weapons evaluator, some Navy combat systems are deployed 'before they have demonstrated an acceptable level of performance' (3).
Earlier this year we were told that 'a serious shortage in the number of the Pentagon's Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs may have helped postpone an attack on Iraq', with a military expert claiming that '[America's] only real option as far as Iraq is concerned is to sit tight and replenish stocks' (4). There seems to be a big gap between the rhetoric about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and US forces keeping their own weapons in order. No wonder Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer urged Iraqi dissidents this week to use 'one single bullet' to take out Saddam - just as long as it isn't fired from a British SA 80 rifle, which has been known to jam in 'hot and dry conditions' (5).
(1) US troops at high risk in chemical or biological attacks, USA Today, 1 October 2002
(2) Chemical Warfare Gear Lost, Audit Finds, LA Times, 2 October 2002
(3) Navy combat systems unsafe?, World Net Daily, 1 October 2002
(4) US restocking attack munitions may presage Iraq campaign, Stratfor, 18 July 2002
(5) Probe into faulty army rifles, BBC News, 3 July 2002
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