Or maybe we should just hold our tongues and keep our rank.
Soldier's Family Says He's Being Punished For Complaining About Equipment Shortfalls
By Eric Flack
(LOUISVILLE, December 9th, 2004) -- They're risking their lives for our country, and Wednesday angry U.S. soldiers in Iraq told Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a lack of equipment is making their job even more dangerous. Meanwhile, the family of a local soldier who first made safety complaints in October says he's being punished for speaking out. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack reports.
In a rare public airing of grievances, disgruntled soldiers complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about a lack of armored vehicles and other equipment problems.
"We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal, compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up to put on our vehicles," Specialist Thomas Wilson told Rumsfeld in front of about 2,300 fellow soldiers. "We do not have proper armament on our vehicles to carry with us north."
"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have," Rumsfeld replied.
Harold Casey Senior knows that all to well. "They're not fighting this war with proper equipment."
His grandson, Justin Rodgers, was part of an Army Reserve unit that refused a supply mission in October.
Rodgers said the fuel he was asked to deliver was contaminated, and the vehicle they were to deliver it in didn't have proper armor.
"He tells it like it is, he won't lie," Casey said.
Rodgers now says he is paying the price for speaking out. He was transferred from his unit, has been getting extra duty and received a reduction in rank.
But in an e-mail just days ago, the solider told his grandfather it was worth it, because fuel is now being tested, and extra protection has been added to vehicles.
It was a hard-fought victory in what some U.S. soldiers say is the new battle: the battle to get proper equipment from the government that sent them into harm's way.
"They're going to have to answer to the man upstairs when it comes their time," Casey said. "And I want to see their faces when they do."
Rumsfeld told the troops the Army is sparing no expense acquiring the proper equipment and vehicles needed by the soldiers, but said manufacturers have not been able to keep up with demand.
As for Specialist Rodgers, his family does not know when he will be home.
He has already been in Iraq about a year, but the unit he's been transferred to arrived just months ago.
So Rodgers could be fighting on the front lines long after his original reserve unit returns home.