Chambliss weighs in on Iraqi armor - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chambliss weighs in on Iraqi armor

December 10, 2004

Albany-- Just days after an Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld addressed a complaint about he lack of armor for military Humvees, Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss is speaking out about the issue.

Chambliss says all military vehicles driven by troops in Iraq will get necessary armor kits. "We've already appropriated the money. The money is there. It's just a matter of getting it done." But he says he's unsure about whether the work will be done at the Marine Base in Albany.

While most of the vehicles were retro-fitted with new armor, Chambliss says ten times as many as expected need the upgrade.

U.S. Army First Lt. Robert Alexander is glad to be home for a two week break, during which he won't have to defend his life in Mosul, Iraq. "We carry our weapons all of the time with us, except when we go to the gym or run. We have our weapons with us and we're loaded," he says.

But in the six months he spent on the battlefield, Alexander says he and the rest of the 125th Transportation Company have been well equipped. "We've got our equipment-- Our vehicles are armored."

But other troops are complaining that their vehicles aren't., and weren't satisfied when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded by saying "You go to war with the Army you have."

"Secretary Rumsfeld was just responding to a question, and we may not have responded the same way, but the fact of the matter is that we're moving in the direction of getting all of these vehicles that our soldiers are driving on a daily basis fitted with these armor platings," says U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss.

Senator Saxby Chambliss spent with some of the same troops that complained to Rumsfeld about having to dig through landfills to find armor for their vehicles.

He says the money for the armor has already been appropriated. "But unfortunately, we're not able to get all of them armor plated within a short period of time. We thought we were going to have to retro-fit about 500, and it turns out we need to retro-fit about 5,000," Chambliss says.

Even though much of the armor is made at the Albany Marine Corps Logistics Base, Chambliss says he's not sure where the platings will be produced. "There are a number of subcontracts that are ongoing, and certainly we're going to be moving as fast as we can move."

But the Senator hasn't ruled out the possibility that workers in Albany will complete the task of producing the equipment that will help keep troops safe.

A Pentagon spokesman says about 450 new armored Humvees a month are rolling off assembly lines each month, bound for Iraq.

posted at 4:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com