Guardsman in Iraq Tells Local Paper Armor for Vehicles Still Inadequate

By: E&P Staff It drew national attention when a National Guardsman in Kuwait, with some encouragement from a Tennessee reporter, questioned Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about lack of armor on vehicles in Iraq last December, and it helped spark military efforts to upgrade the protection. Now another guardsman has sent a letter to a local newspaper indicating that progress in this area still needs the Pentagon's attention.

Tom Loftus, reporter for the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, opened his story Thursday this way: ?Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq are being put at risk because their trucks are unreliable, poorly armored and lack protective glass, according to a guardsman stationed in Iraq.?

He revealed that Staff Sgt. Brad Rogers, 33, had declared in e-mails to the paper on Wednesday that Kentucky National Guard Sgt. James A. Sherrill might have survived a bomb attack Sunday if his truck had protective glass.

"We have great people and great leadership. I just want answers on why we can't get better equipment with full armor including ballistic windows," Rogers wrote. "They need to stop these missions until we get these things."

The paper said that the Kentucky National Guard said Rogers' claims are being reviewed. ?We have done and will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that our soldiers have the very best equipment they can, and that any deficiencies will be corrected as soon as possible," the statement read.

Sandra Rogers told Loftus that her husband had informed her recently that his unit's trucks are inferior to those used by regular active-duty military units. "He's not a rookie. He knows the difference between what regular active gets and what they're getting. He's a very reputable man," she said. The couple has two children and live in Hebron.

Rogers wrote in an email to the newspaper: "The only thing we have is what they call 'hillbilly armor,' which consists of one armor panel on the passenger side and one armor panel on the driver's side."

Rogers said Sherrill's death inspired him to issue his warning, hoping to alert the media and lawmakers: "I know these things that happen in war. I was in Desert Storm. This didn't have to happen, and this shouldn't have happened.?


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