Rob Douglas: Am I buggin’ you? |

Rob Douglas: Am I buggin’ you?

Bush lied and our troops die.

Bush was right to start this fight.

The Surge is working.

The Surge is a failure.

McCain will keep us in Iraq for 100 years.

Barack “Hussein” Obama will cut and run.

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Republicans are the War Party.

Democrats are Surrender Monkeys.

As Bono asks in Silver and Gold, “Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya.”

But just as Bono sings that line punctuated with sarcasm, I am of a similar mind when it comes to the war. Not because of the endless rhetoric the left and right spit in vain attempts to convince themselves of the correctness of their view. No – my disdain lies with those of us who pay little attention to what truly matters during war.

It is time we stop using the war as a partisan weapon to ideologically bludgeon our political opponents while young men and women pay the price for our intransigence in blood.

We, who give so little, owe those who give so much our undivided attention to ensure they have the tools and support to accomplish the mission and come home safely.

I am struck by how little attention most Americans give the war. I have a growing unease that most Americans don’t care what’s happening – unless they have a relative involved. As I travel on business, interact with friends and neighbors and attend social events, I rarely hear anyone discussing the war. We live a fantasy while our troops fight in hell.

Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya.

Something has been eating at me this week and has rekindled my conscience when it comes to our troops.

Last weekend, a number of news organizations obtained copies of a report by Franz Gayl. Gayl is a Marine Corps official disturbed by what he knows of malfeasance by the Pentagon in not providing properly armored vehicles to protect our troops. Gayl recently went public with a report he prepared for the Marines.

Here are excerpts from an account of Gayl’s report in USA Today titled, “Study: Lack of MRAPs Cost Marine Lives.”

“More than 700 U.S. troops died from roadside bombs because the Marine Corps’ devotion to a military vehicle years away from deployment kept it from buying available Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected trucks : instead of fulfilling an urgent Marine request from the field for 1,169 [MRAP] vehicles in February 2005, Marine Corps leaders and analysts delayed fielding the MRAPs, and instead bought more armored Humvees.

“Marine bureaucrats didn’t understand the need for MRAPs, and they delayed buying the large, armored vehicles because they wanted to save money for a future replacement for the Humvee called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

“Stopping the threat posed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq in 2005 was deemed secondary to developing the JLTV,” Gayl wrote. The Marines, he wrote, saw JLTV “as a higher priority than the daily killed and wounded being experienced by : known IED threats in 2005.”

Why does this matter?

“Improvised explosive devices are the largest single killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and are blamed for at least 60 percent of all U.S. casualties there : the Pentagon could have bought 53 South African-made MRAPs called Casspirs for $200,000 apiece in early 2005 and thereby have provided Marines in Iraq’s Anbar province with greater protection against IEDs. But the Marines failed to act, he said.

“Last April, USA Today reported that no Marines had died in 300 attacks on MRAPs used by the Marines in Anbar province. A month later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called MRAPs the Pentagon’s top procurement priority and ordered the Pentagon to buy more and rush them into combat in Iraq.

“Since the Pentagon expanded its MRAP program, only one U.S. soldier has been killed in one of the vehicles, Pentagon records show.”

Bottom line: Hundreds of troops died while the Pentagon’s commitment to developing future armored vehicles took priority over saving lives with armored vehicles already available.

I need to pay more attention to this war – how ’bout you?

Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya.

Rob Douglas spent 10 years as a political commentator and radio talk show host for ABC Radio and Hearst-Argyle Television, following an earlier career as a Washington, D.C., private detective. Rob currently works as a security consultant.