Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I am angry. The only emotion welling through me more fiercely at this moment is sadness.
Because in a brief report of perhaps ten seconds or less, a radio newscaster said three American soldiers were killed early today (July 7) by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
How many times have all of us heard such a report. How impervious we have become to such news. But not today. Today, for me, this became one too many reports of such deaths.
The question is: why are American service members still being killed by roadside bombs, called Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)?
It took the deaths of nearly 1,500 Americans in Iraq and a scathing report by the Pentagon's Inspector General to finally force the top brass to add more armour to Humvees. Then it was added only to the sides of vehicles, not the bottom, which is where explosions from IEDs have the strongest impact. (Please, don't even let me go there!)
After public outcry, fully armoured Humvees were finally sent to Iraq. Even then, it was not enough. The enemy built bigger IED's, with a little guidance from Iran.
There were fewer deaths, but young Americans were still dying in Iraq and many more suffered grievous wounds.
Commanders in Afghanistan are now begging for better protected Humvees. Is nobody in Washington, from the White House, to the Capitol, to the Pentagon, listening?
Enough. Enough foot dragging. Enough excuses. Enough idiocy. Enough dying.
It isn't the generals and the colonels and the majors or even a lot of lieutenants being blown up. No one inside the Pentagon is in danger of losing their legs, their arms, their lives to such a cruel device.
It is the privates, the corporals and the sergeants. It is brave young soldiers, like my grandson, who face the danger of IEDs daily.
There is a solution. Costly, yes. But the cost does not compare to one American life lost.
Use drones to patrol every Afghan road or path Americans could be driving or walking over. Drone cameras can spot activity miles away from thousands of feet above. The stealthy drones could record when and where an IED is planted. And maybe even do a little killing of the planters with a well-aimed missile or two.
The Pentagon will lament they don't have enough drones to do this kind of patrolling. They're more valuable taking out priority Taliban or Al Qaeda targets.
Then build more drones. And build them quickly. Let's prioritize American lives.
To pay for more drones to protect our service members, maybe we could reduce all federal salaries, including members of Congress, the President, his staff, and his top military brass by ten-percent. After all, a recent study found government workers are paid 25-percent more than an equivalent worker in the private sector and have better healthcare benefits and more vacation time.
Build the damn drones. And do it now!
And God Bless and protect our men and women in harms way.

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