U.S. Troops Forced to Turn to Civilian Suppliers
NBCNews.com reported last week that a civilian military depot in California, TroopsDirect, a non-profit organization with one full-time employee, says service members in Afghanistan "are increasingly strapped for basic equipment." TroopsDirect states that
"An Army unit slated to deploy to Afghanistan to clear
roadside bombs has asked ... for 30 special vests designed to carry armored plates because, according to the unit's commanding officer, the Army will only outfit half of his 60 members with those vests."
While the unit already has armored plates necessary for protection, without the vests to slip the plates into, the troops have no way of cloaking themselves with the necessary protective armor.
TroopsDirect has also told of similar circumstances in which medic packs were sent to a Marine Special Operations unit that had been "issued stuff that was ineffective for a medic out in the dirt tending to the wounded." Last month, TroopsDirect heard from the commander of an Army mortar unit outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan, who had been issued such worn-out ear protection that troops were having their eardrums blown out by weapons percussion's and were bleeding from their ears.
Defense Department budget constraints are the reason cited for the failure to supply all troops with necessary equipment according to one unit's sergeant. Another sergeant under the company commander of the vest-needing unit was told that "there was a budget issue tied to this."
The Army's media relations division did not respond to NBC's interview request when NBC sought a comment on the work being done by TroopsDirect.