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MILITARY: Panetta needs to stick up for soldiers

Letter by George Autobee, Pueblo, Colo. on April 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm | 11 Comments »
April 28, 2011 2:05 pm

Re: “Obama to shake up security positions” (TNT, 4-28).

Military families will be watching closely to see if soon-to-be Defense Secretary Leon Panetta can defend critical troop equipment from growing congressional demands for deep Pentagon budget cuts. Everyone supports cutting waste, but the wrong cuts could endanger our troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yet the House Armed Services Committee last year voted to cut funding for the Army’s Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) program, which would provide soldiers with the mobile, secure wireless network and portable ground reconnaissance robot capable of delivering and distributing the information that soldiers need to make effective, life-saving decisions.

This technology, which combat veterans have said is needed now in Afghanistan, would enable one platoon to distribute intelligence from local Afghans about the location of nearby roadside bombs to another platoon on patrol along the booby-trapped road, thereby saving lives. It would allow a soldier to send a photo of a wounded buddy to far-away doctors, who can offer critical treatment advice.

During the peak of the Iraq War, our government failed to equip our troops with enough Kevlar vests, with fatal results. Congress shouldn’t repeat that mistake by delaying these life-saving BCTM technologies.

(Autobee is the former legislative liaison with the American GI Forum of the United States.)

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