Chink in the Armor?

Let's talk about those up-armored Humvees (search) in Iraq.

As you doubtless know this became a huge issue when a soldier stood up at a big meeting in Kuwait and asked Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld (search) why soldiers have to go through the scrap heaps looking for plate steel to weld on their Humvees to protect them from roadside bombs in Iraq.

Both Rumsfeld and President Bush have said it's good a soldier feels he can ask that question. Me too. I'm glad he did.

Look, I try to have confidence that the Pentagon has the soldiers' best interests at heart and they are armoring these Humvees as quickly as possible. I think it's good news that two thirds of the Humvees in Iraq are up-armored. "Up-armor" (search) has fast become the phrase of the day. But I think it's bad news that one third aren't and I'd like to see the Pentagon get on the ball about doing this quicker.

However, I'd like to say that I've been reading a lot about the Crusades lately and, as you might expect, that involves a lot of discussion of military matters of the time.

A situation in common between invading Crusaders and liberating Americans — and let's keep some perspective here on the difference between invading and liberating — is the extent to which armies have always had to forage for what they need either on the way, or once they got to where they are going.

It doesn't surprise me that soldiers are looking in the scrap heap for another piece of steel to weld on their Humvees. My guess is that when the armored Humvee arrives, the first thing the driver does is look around to see if he can get a bit more steel under his seat and over his driver's side door.

Good. He should. I hope he finds a nice chunk of metal and his buddies weld it on, whether or not the thing came armored in the first place.

That said, I do wish the Pentagon was moving faster on this up-armor business. Up-armoring two thirds of the vehicles is good as long as you get that other one third done real fast.

That's My Word.

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