Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bureaucracy in Body Armor

Re my blog on Mr. Bremer, Andrew Exum had an op-ed in the Times that leads off:
THIS week Senator Hillary Clinton, citing a secret Pentagon report that suggested some marines killed in Iraq might have survived had they been wearing more body armor, became the latest in a long line of politicians to castigate the Pentagon for a supposed failure to adequately protect our fighting men and women. Well-intentioned as the senator might be, the body-armor issue, like so many in war, is just not that simple.

The point he goes on to make is that troops need mobility and endurance, particularly in 120 degree heat. So each added pound of armor comes at the cost of less speed, less staying power. Efforts in the press (including a piece on Lehrer PBS Wed. night) to charge the administration with not protecting troops are overly simplified.

How does this tie with Bremer's bureaucratic rules on procurement--the same style of thinking applies in both. You focus on one thing (preventing fraud, preventing lethal shots from the side), propose a solution (more rules, more armor) and lose some ability to achieve your larger objective.

Update: Watched "Black Hawk Down". (I'd read the book before, but just got around to the movie.) When the Rangers loaded up for the raid, the movie shows them leaving behind some armor and other equipment they don't think they'll need.

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