Craig Silverman of 630 KHOW-AM did not question the comment of U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard that military officials have "almost always" said "yes" when Allard and colleagues asked if U.S. troops in Iraq had enough equipment. Allard did not provide details in claiming the exception was in the case of a manufacturer that "wasn't able to keep up with demand" for safety equipment. But Allard twice voted against funding for such equipment.
During the January 10 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, co-host Craig Silverman uncritically accepted Sen. Wayne Allard's (R-CO) comment that Allard and his congressional colleagues have always asked if the troops in Iraq "have enough materials to do what [they] need to do" and that military officials "almost always" have said "yes." Without providing details, Allard claimed that the exception was when the military said it did not have the proper equipment because of a "manufacturing problem" and that the "manufacturer, wasn't able to keep up with the demand" for military safety equipment. However, Allard twice voted against funding for such equipment for the armed forces in 2003, on two separate appropriations requests that reportedly were made for reasons other than a "manufacturing problem."
On April 2, 2003, Allard voted to table an amendment -- effectively helping to defeat it -- sponsored by Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) to supplement the fiscal year 2003 appropriations bill with funds for troop safety equipment. As Media Matters for America has noted, the Landrieu amendment would have added a little more than $1 billion to the bill for the procurement of "National Guard and Reserve Equipment." In her March 20, 2003, floor statement introducing the measure, Landrieu repeatedly asserted that the U.S. government was "underfunding our Guard and Reserve" and expressed shock at "the lack of equipment, the lack of money in this budget to fund their current operations." She added, "For too long, the Guard and Reserve have received hand-me-downs from the Active component. ... Let's give them their rifles, their helmets, and their tactical equipment so we can, as we know we will, win this war."
In a March 26, 2003, press release, Landrieu further explained that the bill "targets shortfalls identified by the National Guard and Reserve in their Unfunded Requirement lists," including the "shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests."
Allard voted to table the amendment, which had its funding request essentially defeated 52-47. Neither Congressional testimony nor reporting on the vote listed "manufacturing problem[s]" as a reason that the military was requesting the appropriation covered by Landrieu's amendment. An April 14, 2003, Navy Times article (accessed through Nexis) by staff writer Rick Maze reported:
Republicans who opposed the amendment said the projects weren't requested by the administration. They also said most of the equipment would be used for training and would have no immediate impact in either the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq because it wouldn't be available for up to two years.
Further, on October 2, 2003, Allard voted against an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), to the $87 billion emergency supplemental bill that would have added $322 million to the $300 million the Senate Appropriations Committee had already attached to the underlying bill for small arms protection inserts (SAPI) body armor and battlefield cleanup. Dodd repeatedly made clear in his October 2, 2003, floor statement that his intent in offering the amendment was to make certain that U.S. forces in Iraq were provided adequate body armor, which he described as a "top priorit[y]":
According to the U.S. Army, the President's supplemental bill falls short of over $200 million for critical gear for our soldiers slated to rotate in Iraq and Afghanistan in the months ahead. This amendment was designed specifically to see to it that those U.S. troops coming into Iraq, into a theater of war, would receive important equipment they need to perform their missions effectively. This equipment includes important high-tech body armor, bullet-proof helmets, special water packs to keep soldiers hydrated, and other survival gear.
An October 5, 2003, Connecticut Post article (accessed through Nexis) reported, "Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., was rebuffed last week in his effort to target additional Iraqi spending on providing soldiers with better equipment." The Post further noted, "Dodd said the Army needs high-tech body armor, bullet-proof helmets, special water-packs to keep soldiers hydrated, and other survival gear for troops rotating into Iraq and Afghanistan":
"In an $87 billion emergency spending package for 2004, you would think we could find enough money to meet the pressing equipment needs of our soldiers," he said.
Dodd also pointed out soldiers are paying "hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket" to buy the equipment themselves.
Arguments made during Congressional testimony against the Dodd amendment also did not mention "manufacturing problem[s]" as a reason the military was seeking the funds for equipment. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) argued:
I wish I had more than 5 minutes, but I do not want to inconvenience my colleagues and keep them here too long tonight. People are missing planes because of this vote. And it is a vote that is duplicitous. It really is designed to reduce the $20.3 billion in the other part of the account.
We did get money for these people. We got money for every item that is on that list, and in the regular bill they have $26 billion. In addition to that, we added $952 million.
I am appalled the Army would ask for this addition. We made an agreement with them. We took money from the other three services. And someone in the Army is going to answer to me. If it is really true someone in the Army went to the Senator from Connecticut and demanded more money than we gave them, after we gave them $26 billion in the regular bill, gave them another $952 million, almost a billion we took from other services, to come in and make this demand at this time, it is absolutely nonsense.
Anyone who comes back, I hope they understand they have been brought back to answer a political amendment. I am going to move to table it when the time comes. The Senator from Connecticut is my friend, but I have to tell you, to bring back people who have already gone home, some of them who missed planes in order to vote on this amendment at this time, is an absolute absurdity.
Dodd then clarified that "the Army did not come to [him]" but that the information he based his amendment on was "an official briefing provided by the United States Army Comptroller to both the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees ... They say that there is a requirement for $420 million to fund the ordnance disposal on the battlefields still out there, and, in addition, there is a shortfall in Army equipment. That is it plain and simple."
From the January 10 broadcast of KHOW 630-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:
SILVERMAN: How do you feel about the number [of troops] -- do you think it's short?
ALLARD: Well, they could be right. They could be right. It could be that we do need more people. And it could be that maybe -- I know the president's continuing to discuss this over with his military advisers, and it could be that they do agree that they need more people than what the 2,000 is. We'll see what the president says tonight. The figure that's sort of been floated out and the one that we kind of talked about in our discussions was 20,000 or more -- I think I said 2,000, but 20,000 or more. So we'll have to wait and see kind of what the president has to say. I stressed to the president that, you know, we got to be sure and stay in constant contact with our commanders on the -- in the ground in Iraq, because they're the ones that really have a feel what's going. And in the Congress we've tried to do that. Whenever they've come forward and testified in front of the committee, we've asked -- we've always asked the question: Do you have enough men, do you have enough materials to do what you need to do? Almost always they have said "yes" except when they got with the Humvee and the armored -- the jackets and whatnot. But that wasn't because we didn't -- they didn't want to supply them, we had a manufacturing problem with the manufacturer, wasn't able to keep up with the demand, and we had to put a lot of pressure on the manufacturer to step that up.